Construction Workers Risk Serious Traffic Injuries on a Daily Basis. Here’s What You Can Do About It
If construction work wasn’t dangerous enough, road repair and construction sites near traffic pose an even greater risk to workers. Road work zones are dangerous places where vehicular traffic and road workers are forced to share space. When a collision happens, it is usually the fault of the driver, but the worker almost always suffers the most serious injuries.
Approximately 20,000 workers are injured as a direct result of road construction each year due to traffic-related accidents and hazards within the construction activity area. In 2016 alone, 25,713 crashes occurred in Texas work zones. These collisions resulted in 181 fatalities. Although the number of accidents has decreased over the past years, injuries and deaths have increased by over 27 percent.
Texas Holds the Record for Roadside Hazards and Risks
On average, there are currently 2,500 active work zones on state roads in Texas at any given moment, morning, noon, and night. As a result of these numerous work zones, over the 12-year span from 2003 to 2014, Texas was ranked as the number one state with the most worker deaths at road construction sites. The average casualties: 156. Florida ranked second with 54 fewer deaths.
As the Texas Department of Transportation works on increasing safety measures and public outreach efforts, it’s important for you to know, whether you’re a worker or a driver, your risks and responsibilities.
The primary causes of roadside worker fatalities are:
- Runover and backover injuries (48%). Almost half of worker fatalities are a direct result of a worker being run over or backed over by vehicles or mobile equipment. Nearly 25% of these incidents are caused by construction vehicles.
- Vehicle collisions (19%). The second most common cause of worker fatalities is a collision between construction equipment and traffic. When traffic fails to slow down or remain in their lane, the driver of the construction machinery may be left with little to no maneuverability, thus increasing the risk for a collision.
- Miscellaneous construction hazards (17%). The third most dangerous aspect of roadside construction is the project site itself. Grounds can collapse, equipment can fail or lose control, and changing weather can all pose a significant threat to workers.
- Caught in between or struck by an object accidents (16%): The fourth most common cause of worker fatalities occur when workers get caught between construction equipment and other objects (mounds of dirt or medians), or when they’re struck by construction equipment or other vehicles.
Minimizing the Danger to Workers
As a worker, it’s your responsibility to remain aware of your surroundings and protect yourself from workplace accidents. Unfortunately, it isn’t practical to constantly watch out for speeding cars as you do your job. The most you can hope for is to keep an eye on specific dangers, such as erratic drivers and off-road hazards like unstable ground and faulty equipment.
Drivers, on the other hand, can do a lot to increase safety for both themselves as well as workers.
When approaching a work zone, drivers must be vigilant and focused. Work zones are protected by increased law enforcement oversight and strict traffic regulations. Unsafe driving could not only get you injured but could also get you arrested or fined. However, you can decrease your risks—as well as workers’ risks—by:
- Watching for warning signs and postings that a construction zone is ahead.
- Adjusting your speed to reduce the risk rear-end accidents or loss of control over your car.
- Staying in your lane. Most road construction zones will post a sign asking that you refrain from changing lanes throughout the construction area to decrease potential confusion and shoulder run-offs.
- Avoiding abrupt maneuvers that may cause you to frighten workers or lose control of your vehicle.
- Being patient, cautious, and courteous. The workers aren’t there to make your commute more frustrating. Don’t take it out on them by driving erratically.
- Using your signals and lights when merging or changing lanes (when acceptable).
Compensation for the Injured Roadside Worker
As with any construction accident, workers’ compensation provides a means of relief for road workers injured in the line of duty. If you’ve recently been injured in a work-related roadside accident, contact our office today.
Need more information about construction rights and site accidents? Contact us directly for a personal consultation on your rights and legal options. You can also use our extensive library of informative articles.
Remember, the worst thing you can do in the event of an accident or workplace injury is to do nothing. Educate yourself and accept the help of Attorney Steve Lee, a local firm with over 25 years’ worth of experience in personal injury law, worker’s compensation benefits, and client satisfaction. Call our office today for a free, no obligation consultation.