Workers and Motorists Put at Risk, Often Deadly
At any given time in Texas, 2,500 work zones are active.
Especially here in North Texas we motorists have come to dread the signs warning them to merge, detour and expect delays. Funneling two lanes into one is a challenge for many drivers that can get blood boiling, as this adds time to already long commutes.
But more than an inconvenience, construction zones are a serious danger to motorists and workers. Slowed traffic, bottle necked lane merging and use of heavy equipment can add up to a deadly combination.
A shocking 21,886 accidents occurred in work zones in Texas in 2015, killing 138 people. The number of work zone accidents shot up by 13 percent in 2015 from the previous year. Clearly, not enough is being done to keep work zones safe.
The Texas Department of Transportation identifies speeding and distractions as the leading causes of work zone auto crashes. Even doubled traffic fines do not deter some motorists from speeding through a work site. Or, perhaps they are too busy texting to notice the warning signs, flagmen and traffic cones – if they are there.
Dallas-Fort Worth roadways are in a constant state of repair, making work zones part of our daily routine. You can protect yourself and workers’ safety by:
- Slowing down: Drive the posted speed limit to avoid a heavy traffic citation or, worse, running into slowed traffic or a construction worker.
- Paying attention: Sending a text is particularly dangerous with so much going on around a work zone, including cars slowing down, heavy equipment entering the highway and crew members working frighteningly close to traffic.
- Planning ahead: Traffic reports, TxDOT announcements and Google maps are great resources to learn about construction zones and to plan an alternate route.
- Being patient: The few extra frustrating minutes you need to slow down and pay attention are worth your safety and that of the workers repairing our roads.
Negligence of Road Construction Contractors and Drivers
Drivers have a duty to slow down and pay attention. In June 2014, a sleep-deprived Wal-Mart truck driver didn’t notice that the posted speed limit had gone from 45 mph to 20 mph in a construction zone. The driver was speeding at 65 mph when he plowed into a van that had slowed for the construction zone, injuring comedian Tracy Morgan and killing Morgan’s close friend.
Construction contractors also have a duty to properly alert drivers about the dangers and to act with caution. My clients’ loved one was killed when he collided with an excavator that workers were driving across the interstate here. This crash could have been avoided had the construction contractor taken simple steps to briefly stop the flow of traffic. I have filed suit and plan to make sure that my clients are justly compensated for their damages and that the construction company takes steps to insure that this never happens again.
Construction zones create inherently dangerous roadway conditions. However, if construction contractors and motorists act responsibly, collisions should never happen.