Spring and Summer Road Construction Creates Risks for Both Drivers and Workers in Georgia
As the weather gets warmer, workers throughout the State of Georgia and all across America begin the monumental task of making much needed repairs and improvements to our nation’s roads, bridges, and highways. While some drivers may complain about sitting in traffic near work zones or having to take alternate routes because of road construction, almost everyone can agree that the road work that occurs during the spring, summer, and fall is a positive thing. Drivers benefit from well-maintained roads and bridges and construction workers benefit from the increased availability of work.
Unfortunately, increased road work does create risks to both construction workers and drivers. You may have heard public safety announcements on the radio or the television, urging drivers to stay alert while driving in work zones and to abide by the speed limits set within work zones. These announcements are designed to remind the public that there are workers present in road construction areas, workers who can easily be injured or killed when drivers do not pay attention or slow down. As dangerous as construction zones are for workers, they also pose a threat to drivers and their passengers. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia ranks number seven (7) out of the top ten states with the most roadway worker fatalities.
There are many potential causes of construction zone accidents. Since traffic patterns may be rearranged several times over the course of a large construction project, there always is a danger that a distracted driver may not be paying enough attention to the road to notice the changes. This could result in the driver colliding with other vehicles, crashing into barriers around the work area, or even breaking through a barrier and entering the area where workers are present. Construction vehicles also can cause accidents in or near work zones, as they often enter or leave the roadway at locations that are not the entrance/exit ramps, in places where drivers are not accustomed to seeing vehicles enter and exit the road. Moreover, when traffic is controlled by flaggers, drivers who are speeding may not see the flagger’s signal in time to slow down, stop, or move into the appropriate lane of travel. This creates a danger that they will collide with other vehicles, the flaggers, or other workers.
Drivers, construction workers, and construction companies all have responsibilities to keep each other safe in construction zones. Specifically, drivers must stay alert and pay attention to the road so that they can notice and respond to lane changes, lowered speed limits, flaggers, changes in the pavement surface, and the actions of other drivers around them. They must respect the posted work zone speed limits, which are designed to protect both workers and the people who are using the roadway. In addition, construction workers are supposed to use safe work habits to keep themselves as safe as they can. Construction companies must follow state and local rules for marking construction zones with barriers and signage and they must also ensure that their workers know how to work safely.
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