Between 2011-2016, more than 3,300 people died when driving in construction zones. Most of these crashes occur on roads with speed limits that are higher than 50. It’s common for drivers to maintain a high speed while driving in a construction zone, which can be dangerous and increase the risk of an accident. If you want to lessen your risk of being involved in a construction zone accident, the following offers helpful safety tips and guidelines that should bolster your safety while on the road.
Stay Safe as a Motorist in a Construction Zone
The most important thing to do when driving through a construction zone is to stay alert, which means that any distractions should be minimized. Along with paying strict attention to the road ahead of you, it’s also highly recommended that you avoid eating food, making a phone call, or changing the music you’re listening to while driving through a construction zone. Even if it’s not necessarily required by law, you will also benefit from turning your headlights on while in a construction zone.
As you’re driving, pay attention to the road, which involves reading construction signs, looking at the traffic surrounding you, and watching for any brake lights on vehicles to your front. Maintain a sizable distance from the vehicles in front of yours to avoid tailgating. If you need to merge into another lane during the construction zone, do so well before the lane closure and with full awareness of what the other vehicles around you are doing.
Before you run errands or take a trip, consider checking websites or the radio for the latest traffic information, which will allow you to leave early if delays are expected. If you’re in a situation where you’re running late, you may feel pressured to drive at a higher speed than the posted limit, which invariably increases the risk of an accident when you’re in a construction zone.
When you’re in a construction zone, driving at the right speed limit is essential. In fact, you should reduce speed if traffic lanes are being closed or work is being done on the road. Keep in mind that moving traffic violations that occur in a construction zone typically result in fines being doubled. Many construction zones will have workers with “Stop” and “Slow” signs at the ends of the zones. It’s important that you heed these signs and only go through the construction zone when the sign says to drive slowly.
Even when you’re calm and patient, there’s always a possibility that something unexpected could occur in the construction zone. For instance, another vehicle may change lanes or slow down unexpectedly, which could lead to a car accident if you’re not paying attention. There are also times when construction workers or vehicles will enter your lane without providing warning, which is why it’s essential that you anticipate the unexpected.
Pay Attention to Surroundings
As touched upon previously, paying attention to your surroundings is critical while driving through a construction zone. These zones are usually separated into four distinct areas, which include the advance warning area, the transition area, the activity area, and the termination area. When you’re in the advance warning area, you should see signs that warn you that a construction zone is about to begin. At this point, you should prepare to slow down.
The next stage is the transition area, which could require you to move to another lane if work is being done on or beside the road. In this area, you must be aware of your fellow drivers and signal well in advance of any lane switch.
The activity area is where the work is taking place. While you’re driving in this area, it’s important that you look out for any construction vehicles, maintain a proper following distance, and adhere to any special speed limits that apply to the work zone. Once you reach the termination area, you’ll notice an “End of Road Work” sign, which is when you can return to how you were driving before the construction zone began.
There are around seven different construction zone signs that could be posted throughout the zone. These signs can include everything from “Road Work Ahead” to “Detour 1,000 Feet.” There are also a few signs that include imagery instead of words. If you notice a sign with one arrow pointing down and another arrow pointing up, this means that traffic will continue in both directions even though the road itself is designed as a one-way road.
Knowing what each of these signs mean is essential if you want to ensure your safety while driving in a construction zone. The West Virginia driver’s manual contains images and descriptors for these signs.
Your Legal Options When Involved in an Accident
When you’re involved in a construction zone accident of any kind, it’s highly recommended that you contact a reputable construction zone accident lawyer immediately to identify what your legal options are. If another driver was responsible for the accident, you could obtain compensation by filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance provider or by filing a lawsuit. There’s also a possibility that a member of the construction crew was responsible for the accident. In this situation, similar legal options could be pursued.
If you’ve sustained an injury from a car accident and would like legal assistance that you can trust, DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC is on your side. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation at no cost or obligation to you.