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Work Zone Accidents in GeorgiaZack
Roadside construction is a very common thing for drivers to see on the daily. As we know, construction projects help improve, expand and maintain the state of Georgia’s highway infrastructure for the millions of motorists who drive it every day. As 2020 approaches, there are already large numbers of roadside construction projects in progress.
As these projects go on, motorists face inconveniences including detours, lane pattern changes, frequent stops, unfamiliar signage and limited spaces due to heavy machinery. Drivers may find that passing through a work zone could be stressful, challenging and hazardous. These situations demand drivers and workers to be more aware of the surrounding, due to the high chances and numbers of motor vehicle related collisions.
Construction Traffic Related Fatalities
The National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse recorded over 799 fatalities in work zones across the U.S. in the year 2017.
More recently, according to GDOT, in the year 2018 There were approximately 27,235 crashes in construction zones. These accidents had resulted in 8,900 serious injuries and 52 fatalities. 14 of the fatalities involved commercial trucks, and 30 fatalities were pedestrian (non-worker) related.
What Causes Construction Zone Crashes?
Similar to everyday collisions, construction zone accidents are frequently caused by frustrated and distracted drivers, or drivers who are confused by either misleading signage or unfamiliar detours and lane changes.
An Atlanta car accident attorney, Christopher Simon, identified some of the most common factors that typically result in traffic collisions and accidents within construction zones:
- Misplacement of signage for construction
- Malfunctioning traffic signals and lights
- Guardrail accidents
- General negligence of drivers and workers
- Confusing signs / directions
Other elements for work zone accidents that are caused by drivers:
- Distracted driver
- Speeding over the construction zone limit
- DUI related
GDOT has reported that 60% or work zone related crashes are rear end collisions that tie with distractions, speeding and intoxicated motorists.
Reducing Work Zone Accidents and Fatalities
To help reduce the number of accidents, The State of Georgia’s Transportation Department has helped the efforts with nationwide highway safety by supporting the Work Zone Safety Awareness Week and reminding Georgia’s drivers about driving safety.
In order to make the work zones a safer place, drivers must grasp the fundamentals of navigating through road maintenance. Here are a few simple tips anyone can apply to help reduce work-zone crashes.
Get Familiar Work Zone Surroundings
The universal signage for construction areas are usually elements marked with black lettering and bright orange. When driving through these zones, motorists are required to obey what is posted in these signs for the safety of oncoming traffic and workers.
Follow whatever the orange signs are instructing drivers to do. Some signs require drivers to merge to new lane or direct drivers to areas such as the shoulder. At times drivers must obey a worker’s signals for either traffic directions or sudden stops.
For drivers who are confused or unfamiliar with construction zone signs and state laws, you can look up the rules and signs in the Georgia Driver’s Manual.
Prepare to Yield
Some zones have vehicles running roadside maintenance including painting, debris removal or pavement repair. These vehicles can be seen moving at very slow speeds with flashing lights indicating traffic to either yield or merge to a new lane.
Georgia’s Move-Over law requires any traffic to move over a lane when they approach stationary maintenance vehicles or emergency vehicles.
The Posted Speed Limit
Normally, a work zone will have a required speed limit that differs from the legally posted one. The reason for this is worker safety related. Construction zones often need drivers to be fully attentive due to potential road hazards, changes in lane position, detouring and for the safety of state employees who are hard at work.
All drivers must obey whatever is posted in zones. In the state of Georgia, the penalty for speeding in a work zone can potentially land you up to $2000 in fines, plus points on your license. You also risk the endangerment of the highway workers on site. Often, road workers are operating within feet or on coming traffic.
Expect the unexpected when driving through work zones, and always focus on the environment. Just like many other accident scenarios, work zone related accident is more likely to happen when a driver is distracted, speeding or lacking focus.
Even in the heaviest construction jams, drivers should not pull out a phone or find any other distractions. Even if traffic is at a halt, Georgia’s law says it’s illegal for anyone to mess with phones or electronic devices while behind the wheel.
Collisions in work zones are rear end related due to distraction, speed and lack of attention. Work-zone driving requires a lot more focus for the safety of other drivers, and especially workers on the job.