Construction accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report that, every year in April, one week is designated as the National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW). The 2013 theme is ‘We’re All in this Together,’ and the kickoff will be April 15th, lasting through the 19th.
Construction season has begun, and this year’s NWZAW theme is intended to highlight the intricacies of work zone areas, particularly in urban centers, and the immense need for all Americans to be aware of and respond to these complexities. Almost everyone is affected by work zones – commuters, road and utility workers, Department of Transportations, pedestrians, emergency response teams, law enforcements, and bicyclists. More than 575 Americans died in 2010 from vehicle crashes in work zones, crashes that could have been avoided.
The kickoff will be held in Northwest Washington D.C. on Tuesday, April 16. There will be numerous speakers at the event, including federal officials and victims of work zone crashes and their families. Following the speeches, black sashes will be draped over orange construction cones near the National Work Zone Memorial in remembrance of the men, women and children killed in the nation’s roadway work zones.
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About 85% of those killed in work zone accidents are motorists, not construction or utility workers. This typically occurs because drivers are speeding, not paying attention, or not following the instructions of road signs. Too often, commuters fail to take the necessary changes in driving time to account for the construction season, causing them to speed through dangerous construction zones. Adding just a few minutes to commuting time, however, can mean the difference between getting into an accident and getting to work safely each morning.
Many states are encouraging motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists to consider taking alternate routes to avoid these areas. Taking alternate routes can be difficult in practice, however, particularly for Texans living in the Bryan-College Station area this year. Across Brazos County there are at least five major roadway construction projects, totaling about $40 million in costs. One project on Briarcrest is proving particularly strenuous, as more than 50,000 vehicles use the road each day. The Texas Department of Public Safety is urging all motorists to use extra caution while driving in these areas. In 2011 alone there were nearly 15,000 work zone crashes in Texas, resulting in more than 2,000 injuries. About one in three of those accidents were rear-end collisions.
For some families, the dangers of roadway construction zones are all too real. In 2005, a Texas man was riding his motorcycle on Highway 51, which had been recently repaved. The project lacked sufficient funding, however, and workers decided to abruptly stop paving a few miles down the highway.A state inspector warned of its dangers, but no one fixed the dangerous pavement drop-off. Upon rounding a corner and hitting the drop off, the motorcyclist slid off the pavement edge, fell of his bike, and was run over by a pickup truck. In Texas in 2002, seven people were killed when a car similarly skid off a drop-off edge on a roadway and overcorrected. Four years before that, six people died in another Texas work zone, after contractors failed to smooth new lane edges.
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When drivers see orange on the road they need to slow down and pay extra attention, and it is worth noting that traffic fines and ticket double in work zones. Roadway construction workers injured on the job may be eligible for workers compensation benefits to help pay for any medical bills or lost wages. If a worker suffers any injury that renders them temporarily or permanently disabled, that person may also be eligible to receive additional compensation.
Drivers need to remember these things when going through work zones: slow down when approaching, read and follow road signs, avoid distractions, and be part of the solution. Workers, contractors, and state departments are also integral parts of the solution, and we all must do our part. If you or a loved one was seriously injured or killed in a roadway work zone accident, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Construction accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you recover medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.