Last year, vehicle accidents in Texas work zones killed nearly 100 people and injured 800. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, work zone fatalities were 9 percent higher last year than in 2016, which seems to indicate that drivers need to get serious about work zone safety.
Driver error – specifically, speeding and inattention – is usually to blame for work zone crashes. Aggressive driving and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol have also been associated with work zone crashes.
Speeding in Work Zones
When a stretch of road is under construction or undergoing maintenance, that section will have a lower speed limit than the rest of the road. Lower speed limits help protect roadside workers from serious injury. And when a construction project temporarily alters the usual traffic patterns, or creates irregularities in the road surface, a reduced speed limit may help drivers recognize and react to those unexpected factors.
If a speeding driver is unprepared for a new traffic pattern or hits an irregular patch of road, they may lose control of their vehicle. Travel lanes in work zones may be narrow and flanked by concrete barrier walls, so a momentary loss of control could result in a serious crash. Attentive and responsible drivers may become entangled in such a crash simply because they can’t veer onto the road shoulder.
Inattention in Work Zones
Texting and other forms of distraction are especially dangerous in work zones.
Chatting with passengers, talking on a cellphone, adjusting the radio, and eating are all distractions. Any activity that takes one’s visual or mental focus off the task of driving could easily lead to an accident. When a distracted driver is also speeding, the risk of a crash increases.
Types of Work Zone Fatalities
Of the deaths that occurred in Texas work zones last year, just four percent were transportation workers; 96 percent were motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Despite the fact that most deaths in work zones are not roadside workers, Texas clearly needs to do more to protect transportation employees. Between 2003 and 2015, 171 transportation employees died in work zone crashes in Texas. That makes Texas the deadliest state in the nation for roadside workers; California, whose population exceeds that of Texas by about 10 million, had 69 employee work zone fatalities in the same time frame.
The Need for Accountability
Texas has a “Move Over/Slow Down” law that requires motorists to slow down or move to a more distant travel lane when approaching tow trucks, TxDOT workers, and emergency or law enforcement on the road or on the shoulder. Texas law also enhances fines for speeding when a driver is caught speeding in a work zone. Nevertheless, drivers still ignore posted speed limits and drive dangerously close to vehicles and people near the roadway.
When negligent, careless, or irresponsible drivers cause a crash that injures or kills someone, they should be held accountable for their actions. For injury victims or the surviving family members of people killed in work zone crashes, often the only way to pursue justice is through a personal injury lawsuit. While compensation can’t undo the harm that has occurred, it can at least help people achieve closure.
If you need help with your accident-related injury, contact The Evans Law Firm today for your free, no-obligation case consultation.