At Hanning & Sacchetto, LLP, our auto accident attorneys in Whittier know how frustrating California road construction projects can be. Whether planned and lasting for months (or seasons!) or pop-up zones for emergency repairs, they often result in lane closures, vehicles closely passing by workers and equipment, and, unfortunately, do little to dissuade distracted, speeding, or aggressive and reckless drivers from changing their behaviors.
The presence of varying road users, including motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists — not to mention the workers doing their jobs under dangerous conditions — can multiply the risks in work zones, where changes to standard traffic patterns can create confusion and frustration.
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), 857 people were killed and 44,240 more were injured in work zone crashes throughout the country last year.
Significant Factors That Lead to Road Construction Accidents, Injuries & Fatalities in California
Whether road construction occurs in a residential neighborhood, on a city street, on a rural road, or on an interstate, it shares common factors that can lead to accidents, injuries, and fatalities for all types of road users and workers.
- Work Zone Complexity
The complexity of road construction projects can lead to confusion among drivers, with changes in traffic patterns, lane closures, and detours can increase the risk of accidents.
- Inadequate Signage and Warnings
Poorly marked construction zones or inadequate signage may confuse drivers and lead to unsafe conditions for motorists and workers.
- Work Zone Design Flaws
Poorly designed construction zones, including inadequate space for merging, unclear traffic flow, or insufficient warning signs, can contribute to accidents.
- Equipment and Material Hazards
Construction equipment and materials near or on the road can pose hazards to workers and drivers if they are improperly secured or marked.
- Worker Safety Measures
Inadequate safety measures for construction workers, such as insufficient barriers or warning signs, can lead to accidents involving workers and drivers.
- Weather Conditions
Adverse weather conditions, like rain or fog, can exacerbate the challenges of driving through construction zones. Reduced visibility due to dust, smoke, or poor lighting can also increase the risk of accidents.
Other factors that play a role in construction zone crashes are the same types of negligence that cause crashes everywhere in California.
They include, but are not limited to:
- Speeding and Reckless Driving
Reckless driving behaviors, such as tailgating, abrupt lane changes, and drivers exceeding speed limits in construction zones, are significant causes of accidents.
- Distracted Driving
Distractions like cellphone use or other inattentive behaviors can be hazardous in construction zones, where conditions may change rapidly, and drivers fail to merge or shift lanes accordingly.
- Impaired Driving
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a significant risk factor for accidents any time, anywhere. This risk is heightened in construction zones, as impaired drivers lack proper judgment and reaction time to adjust to changes in the road.
Like impaired drivers, fatigued drivers may have slower reaction times and reduced awareness, increasing the likelihood of accidents in construction zones.
What We Can Do to Make Work Zones Safer for All Californians?
The FHWA has safety tips to help protect everyone in work zones, from drivers and passengers to pedestrians and workers, including:
- Research your route ahead of time. This will help you avoid work zones or understand the available detours.
- Pay attention to signage and temporary digital message boards, which may provide valuable information about lane closures, shifts, and detours. They can also alert you when workers are present in work zones.
- Slow down, as speeding through work zones puts everyone at higher risk. Slowing down also gives you more time to see valuable information on road closures, detours, and lane shifts and to react to unexpected hazards.
- When you see signage for lane closures and shifts, move into the open lane as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the last minute to move over; you’ll create more risks for yourself and others in the work zone.
- Stay away from work zones, leaving plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you. According to the FHWA, rear-end crashes comprised 37% of all work zone crashes last year.
Have You Been Injured as a Motorist or Worker in a California Road Construction Zone?
If you have been injured in a vehicle, bicycle, or pedestrian accident caused by negligence in California or were hurt or lost a loved one who was working on a road construction site, call (562) 698-6446 to schedule a free consultation with our experienced personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys in Whittier today. We can help you understand your legal rights and options to pursue the compensation and benefits you are entitled to by law.