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Construction Zones Can Be Dangerous For Workers and Drivers Alike

Jason Reese

Pay Extra Attention While Traveling Through Highway Work Zones

Construction workers are at risk every day at work sites across Indiana, especially those spending 8-10 hours days in highway work zones. Lawmakers, local and state police, and construction companies work diligently to reduce the effect construction activities can have on drivers, particularly on interstate highways since highway accident and wreck statistics show there is greater risk of injury or death in a work zone crash when driving on these types of roadways. According to the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), the latest statistics from 2014 show that 14 people were killed and more than 400 were injured in INDOT work zones.

Drivers Cause More Collisions In Highway Work Zones

It is everyone’s responsibility to use caution and common sense when driving through highway work zones. And, although traveling in highway construction can be frustrating because it may take more time and expense and also make a driver feel they are at more risk of becoming involved in an accident, it is important to acknowledge that it is not always the work zone hazards that cause accidents but actually the actions of most drivers. Nationally, four out of five people killed in work zones are drivers and passengers – NOT highway workers.

The most common causes of collision in highway work zones include:

  1. Driver inattention and distracted drivers
  2. Improper lane change
  3. Failure to yield right-of-way
  4. Following too closely
  5. Ran over object in roadway
  6. Ran off roadway
  7. Unsafe lane movement
  8. Unsafe speed

These eight causes often result in the following common types of collisions:

  • Head-on between two motor vehicle accidents happen when two cars driving in opposite directions collide.
  • Rear-end accidents occurs when a motor vehicle crashes into the vehicle in front of it. Rear-end crashes are the most common type of work zone crash.
  • Roadway departure crashes occur after a vehicle crosses an edge line or a centerline, or otherwise leaves the traveled way.
  • Same direction sideswipe wrecks happens when two motor vehicles are moving next to each other in the same direction and their sides contact one another.

Follow the Law and Review These Tips for Safe Driving in Work Zones

The INDOT has helped pass the Indiana Work Zone Safety Law. This helped create heavy penalties for driver inattentiveness and infractions in highway work zones. For example, drivers who choose to speed in a work zone will receive a $300 fine on the first offense. The fine increases to $500 for a second offense and $1,000 for a third offense within three years.

Reckless and aggressive drivers traveling through work zones face fines up to $5,000. And those drivers who injure or kill a highway worker may end up paying a $10,000 fine and serving up to six years behind bars.

Drivers shouldn’t risk the chance associated with breaking the law, especially within a work zone. Drivers should also review these safe-driving tips from the INDOT.

  • Be patient and stay calm. Remember that the construction crews are working to make the road better for you!
  • Expect delays and allow extra travel time to travel through work zones.
  • Don’t text or talk on the phone and avoid taking your hands off the wheel. Distracted driving has become a crisis on all roadways. Driver inattention is a leading cause of all highway crashes.
  • Keep a safe distance on all sides of your vehicles and maintain a safe following distance. Rear-end collisions are the most common type of work zone crash.
  • Pay attention to the construction signing. Those signs are carefully selected to give drivers accurate information and important warnings.
  • Respect the flaggers and obey their guidance. Be patient when driving through work sites with flagger control.
  • Respect the posted speed limits and safely merge as soon as safely possible as this will allow traffic to flow smoothly. Keep in mind, driving 45 MPH instead of 55 MPH through a 5 mile work zone will only add 1.2 minutes to your trip. Speeding and aggressive driving is a major cause of work zone crashes.
  • Select alternate routes if possible to avoid the work zone completely.
  • Take extra care to pay attention and expect the unexpected. Work Zone configurations can change without notice.

Look For Indiana’s “Smart” Road Signs

Most fatal work zone crashes occur on roads with speed limits greater than 50 mph. Watch for speed limit reductions, narrowing lanes, changing traffic patterns, and – most importantly – highway workers. In 2015, the State of Indiana introduced the use of “smart” road signs able to read traffic patterns, and offer real-time updates to cars entering the construction zones, changing speed limits and road hazards accordingly to help drivers.

For example, the heavier the traffic, the slower the speed limit might be, but the smart signs will be able to read this traffic and adjust the speeds as it moves, allowing cars to avoid accidents and move through the work zones more efficiently.

INDOT officials say these signs cut down on the number of rear-end accidents that happen in work zones (largely due to quick drops in speed limits), but they also make the shoulders and work areas safer for construction crews, as they help drivers to navigate the zones more safely.

Travel Safe, Stay Safe

Fatal work zone crashes occur most often in summer (and fall). With holiday weekends and summer getaways soon approaching, be reminded to be safe while driving through construction zones. For your own safety, and for the safety of the workers and their families, please adhere to the lower speed limits, and stay alert for lane shifts, moving equipment, and workers in construction zones. Above all, please put down your cell phones and stay free from distractions.

If you have been in an accident in a highway work zone and injured, the attorneys at Wagner Reese can assist you in recovering damages for your injury and subsequent medical bills.

Stephen Wagner and Jason Reese can work directly with you and handle your car accident claim with years of experience and proven results. Call the law firm of Wagner Reese today at (888) 204-8440 for your FREE consultation.


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