In 2018, the California Department of Transportation reported that there were a total of 1,047 work zone-related accidents across the state of California. As a result, 587 injuries were sustained, and 28 fatalities were also reported.
For those on the job site, careless drivers make working in work zones all the more dangerous. That said, highway construction zones can be a terrifying place for drivers, as well. Mistakes made by construction crews or poor planning on the part of government agencies can lead to unreasonably hazardous conditions, resulting in possible injuries. Fortunately, drivers can reduce their risk of a collision or other type of work zone accident by using a few key safety tips.
What Makes Driving in a Work Zone So Dangerous?
Work zones can quickly transform any street into a terrifying obstacle course because of a variety of factors. In fact, between Between 2020 and 2021, work zone accidents increased by 10.8%.
When looking at the numbers here and mentioned above, the question arises: what actually makes driving in a work zone dangerous?
- Reduced space and narrow lanes: Work zones typically have reduced space and narrow lanes because of the presence of construction equipment, barriers, and workers. This clutter can make it more difficult for drivers to navigate the area, increasing the likelihood of collisions.
- Changing traffic patterns: Temporary roadwork often brings changes to a road’s usual traffic patterns, with sudden changes like lane closures, detours, and reduced speed limits. These changes can be confusing for drivers and increase the risk of accidents.
- Construction equipment and debris: Additional construction equipment and debris on the roadway can make the terrain more dangerous by posing a hazard to drivers, especially in inclement weather.
- Increased congestion: These zones often bring slowdowns and increased traffic congestion, which can lead to frustrated drivers acting more aggressively — and recklessly.
- Presence of workers: Simply having workers present means that there are now people who are at constant risk of being struck by passing vehicles. It’s important for drivers to be aware of their presence and follow posted speed limits and other traffic control measures to help keep them safe.
Five Safety Tips for Driving in Fresno Work Zones
For each of the hazardous factors that make driving in work zones so dangerous, we’ll match you with five key safety tips that can help you drive more safely in Fresno work zones.
- Slow down: Work zones often have reduced speed limits, so it’s important to slow down and drive at a safe speed. Be prepared to slow down even more if you see workers or equipment on the roadway.
- Stay alert: Keep your eyes on the road and be aware of your surroundings. Look for signs and traffic control devices that provide guidance and warnings.
- Increase your following distance: Maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of you. This will give you more time to react to any unexpected changes in traffic or construction activity.
- Avoid distractions: Avoid any distractions, such as texting or eating, while driving through a work zone. There’s really no room for error here.
- Follow instructions: Follow any posted signs, signals, and directions given by construction workers or flaggers. They are there to help keep you and the workers safe.
Keeping Workers Safe in Work Zones
Beyond the basic, human-to-human importance of keeping workers safe on the road, injuring a worker can come with extremely serious repercussions.
If you injure a worker while driving in a work zone in Fresno, California, you could face significant legal and financial consequences. California law mandates that drivers must exercise due care to avoid injuring workers or causing property damage in construction work zones.
If a driver fails to exercise due care and causes injury to a worker, they could be held liable for the worker’s injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. Additionally, the driver could even be charged with a misdemeanor — or a felony — depending on the severity of the injuries. Typically, the penalties for violating California’s work zone safety laws can include fines, license suspension (or revocation), community service, and even imprisonment.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me if I’ve Injured a Worker in a Work Zone?
If you’ve injured a worker, you’re definitely going to want to secure experienced and reputable legal representation. When you have suffered an injury as a result of the construction crew or contracting agency’s negligence, then you could be entitled to compensation to pay for your resulting medical bills and other damages.
If you are facing moving violations or other charges for your alleged role in the accident, you’ll likely need a lawyer to represent you in court. These situations call for a criminal defense attorney rather than an injury lawyer.
When filing an injury claim against careless construction firms or other negligent parties, your construction accident attorney can also help investigate the initial circumstances surrounding the collision, gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses for your case. They’ll work to establish liability and identify any contributing factors (including ones you may have missed) when outlining the accident.
From there, they can consult with experts to build a strong testimony and help negotiate a settlement if need be. Most importantly, if the case goes to trial, your lawyer can represent you in court and fight for your rights and interests.
Should I Contact a Lawyer if I Was Involved in a Work Zone Accident?
Injuries caused in work zones are common, for both workers and vehicle occupants hurt by others’ carelessness. Whether another driver hit you or your vehicle sustained damages due to an unsafe work zone, it’s important to hold the responsible party accountable.
Moreover, it’s important to decide whether you’re going to pursue legal action as soon as possible because California maintains a firm statute of limitations on how long after a work zone accident you’ll be able to file your actual lawsuit. When filing a claim against a government entity like the California Department of Transportation or a municipal public works agency, you have just six months from the date of your injury to file a notice of a claim and submit the required paperwork.
So don’t wait another minute; reach out to a qualified work zone accident lawyer today!
Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law knows what these kinds of cases entail. We can help you fight for your rights with confidence. Our team is just a phone call away at (559) 878-4958 — or a quick click away when using our online contact form.