Staying safe in a danger zone – highway construction safety

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It is unfortunate that throughout the year we see significant accidents in highway construction areas, which often result in severe injury and even death. Construction workers have a responsibility to keep themselves safe while working on the highway. They also have an equal responsibility to keep their construction zones safe for drivers on the road. Drivers should be alert, aware and careful when passing through these construction zones to ensure the safety of themselves and the workers. The U.S. Department of Transportation recorded 514 fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2010 in work zones, resulting in 576 fatalities. Construction workers are threatened by the risk of "struck-by" incidents in highway work zones. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reported that transportation incidents accounted for 76 percent of roadway work zone fatal occupational injuries in 2012. In 67 percent of these transportation incidents, a pedestrian worker was struck by a vehicle. Here are some pointers for highway safety for both drivers and construction workers on the road: Five tips for drivers:

  1. Avoid distractions inside and outside of the vehicle – cell phone use, loud music, GPS and passengers.
  2. Proceed with caution – if you see brake lights up ahead, something that appears out of the ordinary or signaling of any kind, slow down. Give yourself plenty of time to react to a situation that might interfere with highway safety.
  3. Go the speed limit – too many people don't follow construction zone speed limits due to impatience, lack of visible workers or driving irresponsibly. The speed limit is lowered not only for drivers traveling through construction areas, but for the safety of the workers too.
  4. Notice the signs – construction zones take time to post specific signs for a reason, during or after construction work is done. Uneven lanes, marked cones and ending lanes are a few examples of signage that could cause an accident if drivers aren't paying attention to the recommended action.
  5. Follow the signs – workers put these signs up for safety reasons. Recklessly driving, ignoring signs and dismissing construction zone rules put everyone around at risk.
Although drivers should be held accountable while on the road, construction workers must be well-trained, alert and prepared while working in this type of dangerous environment. They are at high risk when entering a construction zone on the highway. In addition to working with heavy machinery, dangerous equipment and harmful chemicals, construction workers have to rely and trust drivers are being responsible while passing through construction zones. Five tips for workers:
  1. Ensure adequate and proper signage – it is extremely important to keep drivers informed and properly alerted in construction zones on road conditions, uneven lanes or merging traffic.
  2. Place cones or barrels properly – ensure that cones, poles and barrels are placed securely to withstand heavy weather conditions.
  3. Night work – make sure that anywhere work is being done after sunset, workers are properly suited with reflectors and clearly visible to drivers.
  4. Require flag personnel – make sure flagmen are on site as construction equipment (trucks, mowers, dozers, etc.) are entering or exiting the highway.
  5. Proper training – make sure workers are trained, alert and aware of potential hazards that could cause risk highway safety.
With roads and highways constantly in need of repair, restructuring and additions, construction zones will continue to be a factor in highway safety. Although the state of South Carolina ranks relatively low in construction zoned accidents, it is important to work towards eliminating them altogether. Both parties should be alert and informed of potential hazards and strive to turn the danger zone into a safety zone for all. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of an auto accident, contact Clore Law Group now. We advocate for the rights of those hurt by the negligence of others. If you have suffered the wrongful death of a loved one due to an accident occurring in a construction zone, we will stand beside you and help you seek the compensation you deserve. Contact Clore Law Group LLC now at 843-722-8070. Sam Allen is an attorney with the Clore Law Group, a Charleston-based catastrophic personal injury and business law firm. He can be reached at [email protected].

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