Road Construction Accident Attorneys

Driving through a work zone can be a dangerous prospect. Of course, you know to keep your eyes on the road and pay attention to all the different things happening around you – road workers and signs especially. However, for anyone who has ever been in an accident within a work zone, you know that many people driving through work zones are not that attentive. They exceed the posted speed limit, and commit other negligent acts that can result in injury. Furthermore, certain work zones may themselves be inherently dangerous due to insufficient signage and faulty traffic flow.

In the state of Arizona, there are over 55,000 miles of paved roadways, including over 11,000 miles of interstate highways, freeways, and expressways. Constant maintenance on these roadways is a given, and major road construction projects can be found statewide at any time of the year. This certainly isn’t news to anyone living in in our beautiful state of Arizona.

Highway repairs cost the state of Arizona hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, and with the road conditions as poor as they are, the chance that you’ll be driving on a road having construction is very high. You’ll constantly drive through road construction and repair areas called work zones, and these are the places you must pay more attention to the road and surrounding areas.

A work zone is simply the name for a stretch of roadway where construction is underway. It could be road maintenance or repair, utility work being performed, or the building of brand new roadways. Work zones are generally marked with flashing lights or arrows, signs, cones, barriers or work zone vehicles and employees. A large project may require temporary installation of traffic lights to direct the flow of traffic when only one lane of the road is usable.

Work zones require your undivided attention. They are typically filled with hazards that are easily detectable…or not. Driving through work zones at night is especially dangerous since your visibility is already limited. Safe driving, of course, should always be a priority, therefore driving through work zones requires you to be more attentive in order to keep you, and those driving and working around you, safe.

Utilize the following ten tips to help you drive as safely as possible through Arizona roadway work zones that you encounter:

  1. Be prepared for the unexpected. Many things are going on around you all at once. Traffic lane reduction, speed reduction, workers, vehicles, and machinery will all be present in work zones. Be on the alert for sudden movements by both people and vehicles. Keep more-than-sufficient space between you and the car ahead of you in case sudden braking becomes necessary.
  2. Be considerably alert as you approach and drive through work zones. Know the meanings of, and follow the instructions from road signs that may be telling you what to do. These signs include lane closures, lane changes, detours, or upcoming roadwork.
  3. Always follow the direction of a flagger if one is present at the work zone, even if what they are telling you to do challenges the signs that are present. If you don’t obey the flagger, you can be ticketed, so follow the flagger’s direction.
  4. Exercise more patience. You’re not the only one being held up in traffic when you’re going through a work zone…everyone is being inconvenienced. Remember that when the project is completed, you’ll have better roads to drive on.
  5. Employ the “Take 10” technique when you’re changing lanes. When you become aware of an upcoming lane closure, put your turn signal on three seconds before beginning your lane change, and then use seven seconds to complete the lane change. Be ever aware of blind spots, and use your mirrors when you change lanes.
  6. Slow down! When you know you’re approaching a work zone, slow your speed carefully so that the traffic around you has time to do the same.
  7. Learn to drive defensively, and practice this around work zones. Rear-end collisions are the number one cause of crashes in work zones. A good rule of thumb is to leave seven seconds of braking distance between the car ahead of you, and your vehicle. The combination of traveling too fast and following too closely will end up being a recipe for disaster. Be aware of all people and vehicles in and around the work zone area.
  8. Assume you are within a work zone until you see signs stating that you have left the zone. Pay extra attention to the signs posted within the work zone, and keep in mind that some of the roadwork will be mobile, such as filling potholes, or mowing the sides of the roadways.
  9. Be prepared for delays, and learn to plan ahead and leave earlier for your destination. A list of roadway construction projects can be found here on the Arizona Department of Transportation website: https://www.azdot.gov/projects.
  10. Eliminate all distractions while driving in a work zone. Turn down the radio, don’t eat or smoke, and pay extremely close attention to the road ahead of you and the surrounding areas. There are currently no state restrictions for texting or talking on a cellphone while driving, but certain cities such as Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Tucson, as well as the counties of Pima and San Luis, all have cellphone bans while driving, and you could get a hefty ticket.

Not paying attention while driving through a work zone can be an expensive mistake, as you are already aware if you’ve been the victim of a work zone accident. If you’re ticketed for speeding or distracted driving in a work zone, you face large fines. You can have up to eight points placed on your license depending on the violation and the jurisdiction of your traffic violation. You could also face suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, which will require you to pay additional fines and fees to reinstate your license, as well as vision, written, and behind-the-wheel tests to regain the use of your driver’s license.

If you cause an accident, you’re looking at the prospect of tens of thousands of dollars of damage to the vehicles, as well as possible injury. Your insurance premiums will go up, and your insurance company may cancel your policy altogether. You may experience out-of-pocket expenses if your insurance isn’t sufficient to cover the damages, and you may be sued by the victims of the accident.

So it pays to expect the unexpected, exercise patience, and know the work zone signs. Always drive as safely as possible, and especially through work zones.