Driving through work zones in Ohio — with their confusing traffic patterns, large and loud construction equipment, and general chaos — can be a challenge. The circumstances put motorists and workers alike at risk, which is why some federal agencies are reminding drivers of the steps they can take to prevent themselves from causing a devastating car accident in a work zone.
A recent report from the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) underscores the risks of work zone traffic conditions. The numbers show work zone fatalities rose 11%, or 757 to 842, from 2018 to 2019. The rising death toll occurred even though overall roadway deaths across the nation dropped by 2%.
Broken down further, driver and passenger deaths increased from 621 to 690, and pedestrian and bicyclist deaths from 131 to 140. Worker fatalities at road construction sites, meanwhile, rose from 124 to 135.
What’s behind the alarming statistics? There were more accidents – the vast majority of them avoidable – involving speeding (up 40%), rear-end collisions (up 29%), and commercial vehicles (up 16%).
The most dangerous road sites both years were arterials, where deaths rose from 324 to 389, and interstates, where fatalities inched up from 287 to 293. Much less frequently, deaths occurred on collector roads, which connect local roads and streets with arterials, and on local roads.
Driving through a work zone requires common sense. This means putting down your phone, no texting, and minimizing other distractions, such as conversations with passengers and listening to loud music. Other helpful tips from the FHA include:
- Checking for updated traffic conditions before starting your trip. Consider changing your route to bypass work zones, which likely will make your trip take longer anyway.
- Awareness of changing work zone conditions. As projects progress from day to day, everything from traffic patterns to speed limits can vary.
- Keeping an eye on roadside workers. They are often working with loud machinery under conditions that demand their full concentration, so they may not be aware of traffic.
- Maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles. Work zones often mean stop-and-go traffic, so you want to give yourself enough time and room to avoid an accident. As a matter of fact, rear-end collisions accounted for 25% of fatal work zone crashes in 2019.
- Being alert for large vehicles. They can block your view of potential hazards. They also react slowly to surrounding traffic.
Driving is difficult enough in Ohio, but driving through a work zone presents you with additional challenges while making you more vulnerable to tragedy. If you’ve been injured in a work zone crash, someone else – another motorist, a member of the work crew – might try to blame you for the accident.
In the meantime, your injuries may pose challenges to your physical, mental, and emotional health. You also might be out of work and unable to support your family. In cases like this, it's common for an insurance company, interested mostly in protecting its bottom line, to pressure you with a tempting financial settlement that is nowhere close to what you and your loved ones need or deserve.
At Smith Law Office in Columbus, attorney Scott Elliot Smith has been fighting for the rights of crash victims in central Ohio since the 1980s. His legal experience and familiarity with the local court system give him a legal edge that he can put to work for you. Let our law firm aggressively take on your case. We can deal with the insurance company while you concentrate on your recovery.
Find out how an experienced car accident lawyer can help you. Contact us today for a free case consultation.