Texas highways seem to be perpetually under construction, which means Texas road workers are constantly putting their lives in danger while trying to improve our highway infrastructure. There may be as many as 3,000 active work zones in Texas on any given day, with many located in the greater Houston area. Texas drivers are being trusted to follow all safety and warning signs for these work zones, to ensure the safety of our road workers. Unfortunately, many drivers do not pay attention and those working in construction zones can be devastatingly injured or killed in work zone accidents. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDoT), in 2019 there were more than 26,000 car crashes in work zones in Texas that resulted in 167 fatalities and 690 serious injuries. Road workers deserve a safe working environment, like all workers in Texas, and drivers should take precautions to respect road workers’ safety.
Work Zone Crash Causes
Driving through a work zone presents drivers with a different environment to navigate. Many drivers are used to their daily commute and can go on “auto-pilot” when driving the same way to and from work, school, or the store each day. Work zones can change a road’s lanes, require drivers to slow down, change the road surface, create new barriers, and involve placing new vehicles or equipment on the road.
- Uneven road surfaces: Minor surface changes are very common during roadwork and construction projects, which can quickly cause a driver who is not paying attention to lose control of their vehicle.
- Newly designated construction lanes: When construction zones have newly marked lanes, drivers may be confused about where they are supposed to go, and can drive in an inappropriate lane and cause a crash.
- Construction vehicles in the roads: Roadway maintenance vehicles regularly move on or off the worksite and potentially the highway. Drivers who do not slow down and allow these vehicles to pass can collide with those vehicles.
- Driver error: According to the Texas Department of Transportation, speeding, drunk driving, and driver inattention are the leading causes of construction zone injuries.
- Weather conditions: Drivers who are not driving carefully when there is fog, rain, and other inclement weather may lose control in a work zone, which can lead to road worker injuries.
Staying Safe in a Work Zone
Road workers rightfully take significant safety precautions every day to stay safe at work, and all drivers should do the same. Some safety precautions drivers should take to protect our road workers include:
- Do not drive while distracted: If all drivers keep their full attention on the roads and off their phones, fewer accidents will occur keeping road workers safe.
- Slow down and obey warning signs: Drivers should slow down and follow all posted work zone speed limits as well as caution signs. Traffic fines in work zones double when road workers are present and can cost a driver up to $2,000.
- Be patient and respect road workers: Follow all instructions from road workers, including flaggers and those in construction vehicles. Traffic will be slower and you may have to wait for instructions on how to navigate the work zone.
- Watch out for road crews: Road workers only have protective gear to keep them safe. While a bright safety vest, hardhat, and safety boots can protect a crew from common work site hazards, they are not in a vehicle that affords the same protection from a car crash as being inside of a closed passenger car. A worker’s body is no match for a heavy metal vehicle.
- Plan Ahead: Try to map out your driving route; and, if there are new work zones, try to leave earlier or take a route that will avoid them entirely. This will put fewer cars in the work zone, which will decrease the likelihood of a road worker being injured.
How We Help Injured Road Workers
Maintaining and expanding Texas roads is serious work and requires many road workers to put their lives on the line by working in a dangerous environment. If you have been injured in a work zone car crash or lost a family member in a construction zone, contact the legal team at Adame Garza today. We will work together to navigate the difficult process of obtaining fair compensation for your injuries, pain, and suffering.
Many workers appreciate the opportunity to be able to do their job, even during these unprecedented times, but others fear for their lives each time they enter a work zone. If you have been injured, we will determine the cause, who is liable, if a responsible driver was reckless or impaired, and will collect all evidence required to fight for your rights. If an unsafe work environment caused your injury, we will fight to obtain fair compensation from your employer, its insurance company, and/or the government. You are not alone in this fight – we will advocate for you and your family and will listen to your needs.