Drivers Beware: Work Zones Dangerous to Drivers as well as to Workers Ask any state transportation official and he or she will tell you motor vehicle accidents in work zones are largely related to speeding and impaired driving. While this is true, it’s only half the story.
The New York Times reports extensively on the other reasons for slowing down, namely that the construction company may not be adhering to state regulations regarding the construction of safe work zones. This is because state transportation agencies can become more focused on the pace of the work and its deadlines than motorist safety. As a result, states give extra leeway to the contractors when it comes time to inspect work zones for safety, with potentially hazardous results for the driving public. Even worse, although Federal safety guidelines do exist, they are not strictly enforced. Here are three things you may not be expecting, but might encounter in any work zone:
1)Pavement edge drop-offs. According to the Times, these are a leading cause of fatal accidents. These drivers to lose control and veer, either off the roadway, or worse, back into traffic with the risk of a head-on collision.
Source: Federal Highway Administration
2)Abrupt or improperly constructed lane closures. Usually, guidelines suggest that lighted signs be used to forewarn drivers of upcoming lane closures. However, sometimes warning signs seem to appear out of nowhere, forcing drivers to merge quickly and dangerously, or else take other evasive action. Limiting your speed and staying alert make sure that you will be able to do this. In this case, a construction worker was injured, and a driver faces charges: http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2009/06/dan-ryan-road-worker-hit-seriously-injured.html
3)Rolling road-blocks. This is when all traffic on a road is reduced to 20 mph or less to facilitate the placement of equipment and safety measures for work ahead of the roadblock. Roadblocks are supposed to be accompanied by police with lights flashing, as well as lighted signage well in advance of the block. Sometimes, however, these safety measures are omitted, resulting in disastrous accidents.
When an accident occurs in a work zone, the law may not be an easy recourse for the driver. Even in cases of negligence by the road crew, state governments usually support their contractors, providing testimony and documentation in favor of the construction company. Furthermore, if the police suspect speeding or impaired driving, a civil action becomes much more difficult to pursue.