Work Zone Accidents and Injuries

Work Zone Accidents and InjuriesBesides being cut off from another driver, there’s one thing that all drivers cannot stand: traffic. In a way, one of the positive effects of the global shutdown was that the number of cars traveling on the road decreased, so there was significantly less traffic to deal with when you did need to go somewhere. The Federal Highway Administration reported that travel on all roads and streets decreased 40 percent in April, and 26 percent in May of 2020.

It turned out that the decreased traffic wasn’t a boon at all. Even though there were fewer cars traveling on the road, fatal traffic accidents actually increased during the pandemic. Part of this was because of the way people were speeding, but part of it may have had to do with road construction. Because construction workers were considered essential personnel in so many states, road work continued (including here in Tulsa) even as much of the country shut down. Increased number of work zones combined with reckless driving behavior created dangerous circumstances everywhere.

How common are work zone accidents in Oklahoma?

Unfortunately, the state of Oklahoma is one of the states where work zone accidents and fatalities are common. From 2015 to 2020, 83 motorists were killed in work zone accidents, and at least 12 people died in work zone accidents during 2020. In addition to 83 fatalities, there were 1,398 people injured out of the 7,725 work zone accidents statewide.

Who is at risk of being involved in a work zone accident?

Construction and transportation workers who work directly on roadways are at risk of becoming involved in a work zone accident. These are the construction workers who perform tasks such as patching potholes, directing traffic, striping roads, and building roadways. These workers are most at risk because they can be struck by drivers who are engaged in dangerous driving behaviors.

But according to the data, only two Oklahoma Transportation workers were killed in the last five years. That means the greatest risk appears to be to drivers, motorcycle rides, pedestrians, and other non-employees.

What are the Top 3 dangerous driving behaviors that lead to a work zone accident?

The top three driving behaviors that can cause a work zone accident or fatality are speeding, distracted driving, and tailgating.

Speeding through a work zone is dangerous for several reasons. There is a reason why speed limits are lowered for drivers when approaching or traveling through work zones: the traffic lanes narrow, and the shoulders often disappear. Visibility is limited. Drivers need time to react to the changes in traffic. The greater the driver’s speed, the less of a chance the driver has to adjust to the unexpected changes, leading to the possibility of a work zone accident or fatality.

Although workers post multiple signs warning drivers of upcoming speed limits in a work zone area, drivers who are distracted or on their phones while driving may miss those signs. They can also miss things like brake lights, workers entering the road, or other signs that something is about to change. This reduces their time to adjust course, and poses a risk to everyone.

Because of the various, unexpected changes in traffic during work zones, tailgating is also a dangerous behavior that can lead to a work zone accident or fatality. It is difficult enough to maneuver through work zone areas, and the worst thing a driver can do is follow too closely behind another vehicle, reducing the amount of time a driver has to safely react to the flow of traffic.

What injuries result from work zone accidents?

Construction workers, drivers, passengers, and others are at risk of suffering from injuries such as:

Depending on the nature of the accident, individuals are at risk of suffering crush injuries or an instant loss of life, leading to a wrongful death claim.

What is being done to reduce the number of work zone accidents and fatalities in OK?

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) is in the process of implementing several projects that increase work zone safety. One of the methods the organization is encouraging all drivers to practice is the merging method known as the Zipper Merge method.

When the traffic volume increases, drivers are advised to drive in both lanes of traffic until the lanes narrow and then begin to merge one vehicle at a time. This method is beneficial because it is a known secret that many drivers struggle with merging properly on roadways. This method also allows drivers to engage all lanes and use all available pavement in an effort to improve traffic efficiency.

In addition to encouraging drivers to apply the Zipper Merge method, the ODOT is incorporating a network of signs for drivers that begins several miles before approaching a work zone area. The organization believes that the addition of several signs will help warn all motorists earlier of upcoming work zones and what to expect ahead of time.

Another method the ODOT is implementing is a new year-round safety education program that was created in January. The education program, titled “Make Safety Stick: Everybody Click,” highlights a different highway safety topic each month and associates the topic with the theme of increasing seat belt usage. The program is showing some progress, as Oklahoma currently ranks No. 43 for seat belt usage nationwide.

At Biby Law Firm, we move quickly to investigate the accident site, speak with witnesses, and determine who is liable after a work zone accident in or near Tulsa. We work with your doctors and employers to verify and detail your pain and suffering, your medical bills, your lost wages, and any other income losses such as a diminished earning capacity. For help now, call our Tulsa work zone accident lawyers at 918-574-8458, or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment. Initial consultations are always free.