Slow down! April 9-13 is National Work Zone Awareness Week. Each spring, the annual campaign marks the start of construction season to encourage drivers to use extra caution while driving through work zones on the highways and roads.
The goal is to decrease construction accident injuries and fatalities, raise awareness of the need for drivers to use caution when driving by construction sites, standardize construction worker safety training, and understand the effects of traffic delays on drivers and ways to reduce negative behavior such as road rage and speeding.
Georgia Construction Worker Accidents
Construction on Atlanta highways is an ever-present reality for drivers. Current Georgia DOT construction projects include:
- Widening I-85 North from Hamilton Mill Rd to State Route 53 in Braselton
- Widening I-16 to reduce traffic congestion near Savannah
- Adding two Express Lanes in each direction on 400 between I-285 and McGinnis Ferry Road
- Adding Express Lines to I-285 to the Top End, Eastside, and Westside
- Reconstructing I-285/I-20 East and West interchanges with lane widening and new collector-distributor lanes
- Adding commercial vehicle lanes on I-75 from McDonough to Macon
So much construction might numb many of us to the danger of speeding in work zones. Drivers wait until the last moment to merge or grow bored and take a quick peek at their phones. Unfortunately, such decisions can have devastating consequences.
Last year in Carroll County, a construction worker was struck and killed by a distracted driver while painting a bridge on I-20.
Recently, 42-year-old Lamar Ragland was removing barrels on I-85 when a car entered the closed section and hit him. The construction worker succumbed to his injuries the next day.
Nationally, more than 3,300 people are killed due to work zone accidents each year and this number is likely to grow as the number of drivers and construction projects increase over the next couple of decades if American driving habits do not change.
Work Zone Accident Statistics
- Between 2013 and 2015, work zone crashes increased by 42%.
- In 2016, 27% of fatal work zone crashes and 29% of work zone fatalities involved large trucks.
- Most of the people killed in work zone accidents are drivers and passengers.
- Over the past five years, distracted driving has caused more than 400 deadly crashes in construction zones.
- Rear-end crashes are the most common type of work zone crash.
- Most work zone fatalities caused by crashes happen during the summer and fall.
- The majority of fatal work zone crashes happened on roads with speed limits of 50 mph or higher.
Georgia Work Zone Laws
Make sure you are up to date on all Georgia driving laws.
Georgia's Move Over Law
When you encounter an emergency vehicle on the side of the road flashing emergency lights (red, blue, or yellow/amber), you MUST move over to another lane or slow down and be prepared to stop. This law applies to Georgia work zones, police vehicles, first responders, tow trucks, and HERO vehicles. Failure to move over or slow down may result in a fine of up to $500.
Distracted driving accidents are becoming increasingly common as mobile phone use surges. Most distracted driving accidents happen during morning rush hour and evening commutes.
Remember: texting and other mobile activities (besides navigation and phone calls) is banned for ALL drivers. Drivers under 18 and school bus drivers cannot use a cell phone at all, even when a device is hands-free.
The Georgia General Assembly recently passed legislation that will require all Georgia drivers to use hands-free technology while driving. Holding, using or reaching for a telecommunication or electronic device will be prohibited.
Navigation, phone calls, texting are allowed but only under certain circumstances: a person can mount their device to the dashboard or windshield, use in-vehicle GPS and Bluetooth systems, or use their device to report an emergency.
Smart watches, two-way radios, and earpieces are also permitted.
The bill is expected to be signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal soon.
Work Zone Driving Tips: Expect the Unexpected
Use these driving tips to save lives and bring work zone crashes down to zero.
- Dedicate your full attention to the roadway by minimizing distractions. Don't change the radio station, use your phone, eat, reach for something, or do anything else that can steal your concentration from the road.
- Pay attention and obey road signs. Watch the traffic around you and be prepared to slow down.
- Turn your headlights on to make your vehicle more visible to other drivers.
- Move over or merge into the appropriate lane before you reach the lane closure.
- Many work zone accidents result from following too close. Avoid tailgating by keeping space between you and the driver in front.
- In Atlanta, delays are inevitable. Always check traffic before heading out onto the road.
- Obey the speed limit. Reduced speed limits are posted for a reason -- they keep traffic moving and reduce the likelihood of a work zone accident.
- Always follow flaggers' instructions. They are there to direct traffic and keep everyone safe.
- Stay alert. Road workers, work vehicles, or debris may enter your lane without warning. Other vehicles may slow, stop, or change lanes unexpectedly.
Be patient, slow down, and stay focused. Construction workers are part of our community and are working hard to improve Georgia's infrastructure and make your future drive easier and safer.
Atlanta Construction Accident Attorney
Construction and road work are among the most dangerous jobs in the US. If a workplace injury is the result of a work-related car accident or construction accident, our law firm works with the victim to ensure they receive proper treatment and their workers' compensation benefits.
Third-party negligence claims are often filed as part of a work zone accident case. If a construction worker is killed or injured on the job due to negligence or a car accident, this may be grounds for a third-party lawsuit.
For example: a truck driver or construction worker who is injured because of the negligence of a drunk or speeding driver can file a lawsuit. The injured worker at the same time would generally be eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
Resources: Driving Safely in and Around Work Zones: Be Alert and Expect the Unexpected
Further Reading: How Big of a Problem Is Aggressive Driving?