Road work zones can be dangerous, and motorists should take extra care when passing through them to stay safe. Otherwise, they could pose a danger to other drivers and construction workers in the zone. At a minimum, motorists should slow down and be extra alert when passing through these areas.
The Dangers of Work Zones for Drivers
The deteriorating state of highways and infrastructure means that there will be far more work zones in the coming years. Governments will need to rebuild highways that have crumbled after years of underinvestment. This is even more true in Illinois, which ranks in the bottom half of the country in the number of roads in disrepair. Already, there are nearly 6,000 crashes each year in Illinois work zones. Even though the number of fatalities has decreased due to safety initiatives, construction zones still threaten the lives of motorists and workers in the area.
One of the major dangers of work zones is the sudden change in road conditions that affect drivers with little warning. Although there should be signs posted before a driver encounters construction, there is often little to prepare them for what they encounter. A sign that says “Road Work Ahead” does not provide detail about what the driver can expect. In addition, lanes can become narrower, with barriers not giving drivers much room. Work zones could also cause traffic to stop with little to no warning.
Drivers Should Slow Down to Stay Safe
Even though speeding through a work zone is illegal in Illinois and is punished with a minimum fine of $375, this does not stop motorists from driving through them too quickly. The best thing that a driver can do to stay safe is to slow down the second they realize that they are in a construction area. Driving cautiously allows the motorist to anticipate hazards and be able to react to changing road conditions. When speeding, drivers often see dangers far too late to apply the brakes or take evasive action. They are also more likely to lose control of their vehicle.
Motorists Should Pay Extra Attention in Work Zones
Another danger of work zones that is exacerbated by speeding is work equipment. When construction workers are on the side of the road, their tools or equipment may be right next to or in the roadway. All it takes is one small piece of equipment to cause an accident. A driver may lose control, even when there is a little debris in the roadway. Motorists need to extra pay attention to the roadway surface, scanning for anything in their lane.
One split second with a driver’s attention off the road could cause him or her to miss a sudden danger. With traffic congestion and road hazards common in work zones, drivers may need to stop quickly to avoid a crash. Otherwise, they could rear-end the car in front of them. Avoiding distractions also means staying alert. If drivers are tired, they should pull over to rest before going through a construction zone, especially if the signs alert them to a lengthy work area.
Large Trucks Need Extra Space
One of the biggest challenges that drivers face in work zones is large trucks. They take up a lot of space, even under normal traffic conditions. When lanes are tighter and terrain shifts, they are even more of a danger. Nearly half of all fatal work zone accidents involve large commercial trucks. Drivers need to be extra careful when they are next to or behind a large truck. If they have the ability, they should allow extra distance between them and the trucks. In addition, motorists should do what they can to stay out of trucks’ blind spots. They should assume that truck drivers are not able to see them if they are anywhere close to the truck.
Injured Motorists Can File a Lawsuit
Drivers can be legally responsible for causing accidents in work zones if they are not careful. Drivers owe a duty of care to their passengers, other motorists, pedestrians, road construction crews to act reasonably under the circumstances. Traveling at the posted speed limit can still be dangerous when reasonable care requires that a driver slow down even more in a work zone.
An auto accident attorney often works with reconstruction experts who investigate car and truck accidents that happen in work zones to determine causes that may have contributed to these crashes. Injured motorists could file an insurance claim or a lawsuit if they can prove that someone else was to blame for the accident, entitling them to financial compensation for their injuries.