Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the state of New York. With over 4,232,748 registered vehicles in New York, heavy traffic, road congestion, and subsequent crashes are daily occurrences. When roads are under construction, traffic congestion gets worse, and accidents tend to go up.
Construction zones typically have reduced speed limits, altered lanes, and construction vehicles and machinery in use. They can be hazardous for road users and workers, with over 700 fatalities occurring yearly in these areas.
In New York State, 203 crashes occurred in work zones in 2021, resulting in 48 injuries. These injuries and deaths involved drivers who failed to navigate the work zone safely.
Road users must learn how to drive safely through these areas to avoid unnecessary accidents with construction workers and vehicles. Here’s how:
Flaggers work in construction zones to direct traffic and help drivers move safely through the site. They are trained under New York State Department of Transportation regulations to control the flow of traffic and car speeds in work zones.
A flagger uses slow/stop paddles to direct cars to stop or proceed near a construction zone. If the reverse-side message is inappropriate for traffic approaching from the other direction or there’s lots of wind, they can use flags. They may instruct you to switch lanes or maneuver around a construction vehicle.
Your priority should be to pay attention to the flagger’s instructions. They are there to keep you safe. Look for a “Flaggers Ahead” sign as you approach the construction zone and follow their instructions. Always remain alert and closely monitor the road, traffic signs, and surroundings. Be prepared to stop at any given moment.
Distracted driving was responsible for 3,142 fatal traffic accidents in the United States in 2020. A distracted driver could be eating while driving or talking with a passenger, but cell phone use behind the wheel poses the greatest risk to road users. The use of a cell phone as a distraction was reported in 354 fatal crashes in 2020.
Avoid using your cell phone in any capacity when driving in construction zones, whether talking, texting, taking pictures or video, or looking up information online. You must be ready to react to unexpected obstructions, such as sudden speed limit reductions or lane changes. You should focus your full attention on the road. Additionally, you should avoid multitasking, such as eating or changing the radio station, while driving through a construction zone. Maintain an alert and attentive state by checking your mirrors regularly.
In 2019, over one-quarter of fatal construction zone accidents were rear-end collisions. In fact, following too closely is the cause of four in every ten collisions of any kind in New York State.
You should keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you to give yourself sufficient time to brake. This space gives you enough room to make a sudden stop if needed. It also warns other vehicles trailing behind you to stop as well.
The New York Department of Motor Vehicles (NY DMV) recommends drivers use the two-second rule to create a safe distance from other vehicles. Find an object near the road, such as an overpass, signpost, or a tree. When the vehicle ahead of you passes it, your vehicle should pass the same object in two seconds. The DMV suggests using three or four seconds in bad weather and when passing large trucks to create more space for your vehicle. If it takes less than two seconds to reach your chosen landmark, you are traveling too fast, and not leaving yourself enough room for emergency braking.
It’s essential to maintain your distance from construction workers and equipment. Since you’re passing through an active construction site, be aware that workers, other vehicles, and equipment may enter your lane unexpectedly. If you need to merge lanes, use your turning signals and merge in the construction work zones.
What to Do if You’re Involved in an Accident
If you were injured in a construction zone accident, you may be entitled to damages for your losses, including medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering.
Catalano Law’s Syracuse car accident lawyers can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if you were not responsible for the accident. We conduct thorough investigations, gather evidence, and consult expert witnesses to determine who is at fault and what damages you’re entitled to. Depending on the circumstances, a construction company, another driver, or the state may be held responsible.
At Catalano Law, we offer free case evaluations and help you assess your legal options. Our experienced team reviews your case and provides impartial recommendations on pursuing a claim. Get the process started by scheduling a consultation today.