Recently, a married couple from Pennsylvania tragically lost their lives in a construction zone truck accident on I-70 westbound just inside the West Virginia border. According to the police investigation, traffic was stopped in a construction zone when a tractor trailer failed to notice stopped traffic and collided with the rear of a pickup truck that was pushed into the couple’s car causing it to hit another truck. News reports said the driver of the tractor trailer did not apply his brakes until he was approximately 50 feet from the stopped traffic.
Despite the construction zone being well marked and a reduced speed limit, reports say that the tractor trailer driver failed to take note of the construction zone and the stopped traffic. This construction zone accident is being attributed to the tractor trailer driver’s delayed response to circumstances around him. As this devastating and grievous incident reminds us, we need to stay alert and exercise extreme caution while driving in construction zones.
Over the past several years, a great deal of construction has taken place on I-70 in West Virginia between the Pennsylvania and Ohio Borders. As a result, it is easy to become accustomed to the orange signs and barrels, flashing arrows, lane closures, and reduced speed limits and see them as little more than “inconveniences” as we hurry about on our daily drives. We forget that these “inconveniences” are actually put in place for our safety to warn us of hazardous and unexpected road conditions. According to the Federal Highway Administration, from 2015 through 2019 an average of 782 people a year die in construction and maintenance zones. The West Virginia Department of Transportation reports that over the last five years in West Virginia there have been nearly 1,800 work zone crashes with 15 fatalities and 509 injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the majority of construction zone accidents are rear-end collisions with a significant portion of them caused by distracted driving.
When driving in a work zone, it’s important to remember the following tips from the West Virginia Department of Transportation.
Driving at speeds greater than the posted speed limit, or faster than the road conditions allow, greatly increases your chances of causing an accident. The faster you travel, the less time you will have to react to unexpected circumstances such as slowed or stopped traffic.
STAY ALERT IN CONSTRUCTION ZONES
Circumstances can develop quickly in work zones, and you need to be prepared to respond to them at a moment’s notice. Watch the traffic around you, look for brake lights ahead, and anticipate other vehicles suddenly changing lanes or slowing down.
PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE
It is illegal in West Virginia, and many other states, to be using your phone while operating a motor vehicle. More importantly, phone use is one of the leading causes of distracted driving accidents.
Following too closely gives you less time to react to sudden slowdowns, stops, or emergencies. You should leave enough space between you and other vehicles to ensure adequate stopping distance to prevent rear-end accidents.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
Workers, vehicles, and equipment can enter the roadway with very little warning. Obey signage, flaggers, and law enforcement. Give yourself plenty of space and time to merge into open lanes and be courteous to other drivers.
BE PATIENT IN CONSTRUCTION ZONES
Do not drive aggressively, especially in construction zones. Slowing down, not tailgating, and staying alert will not unduly prolong your journey. It is better to take your time and arrive safely at your destination.
These tips seem simple enough but are often ignored as we hurry about our daily lives. We tell ourselves that we are safe drivers and that accidents happen to other people. As this most recent construction accident demonstrates, however, a tragedy like this can happen to anyone at any time and it is up to us to prevent them. So, the next time you’re out on the road and come upon a construction zone, remember these tips. Slow down, take your time, and help make sure that everyone arrives safely.
INJURED IN A CONSTRUCTION ZONE ACCIDENT?
Construction zone accidents are preventable. Drivers have the responsibility to follow signs and warnings and to exercise caution while driving in a construction zone. When drivers ignore posted signs in and around construction zones, tragedy occurs. If you or a loved one has been injured or worse in a construction zone accident, the experienced construction zone accident lawyers at Gold, Khourey & Turak can help you. We offer free consultations, and there’s never a fee until we obtain compensation for you. Contact us 24 hours a day by calling or texting (304) 845-9750, or online by Live Chat or completing our no obligation consultation form. Construction zone accidents do not need to occur, but when they do, our accident attorneys will protect your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve.