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Working in traffic? You could be at risk

You love working in construction, because you get to see the things you build support the lives of those around you all the time. It’s a great way to feel connected to the community and to know that your work means something.

Unfortunately, being on and around the roads is dangerous. If a driver doesn’t pay attention, it’s easy for them to drive into your work zone and to cause serious injuries or deaths.

Did you know that over 4,400 people died in work zone crashes in the last five years? Many of those deaths could have been avoided if drivers had slowed down or avoided construction zones. Slowing down is absolutely essential. Why?

The stopping distance for vehicles that are traveling at 50 mph is around 300 feet on dry roads. It’s around 400 feet on wet roads. When it’s icy, it can take up to 1,250 feet to stop. If you’re traveling above 50 mph in a work zone, it will take even longer.

What can drivers do to prevent crashes with workers?

Drivers need to be safe. Workers have already done what they can to be safe by putting up signs and barricades. Now, drivers need to do their part by:

  • Keeping safe distances
  • Watching for brake lights
  • Paying attention and being prepared to react to other drivers
  • Merging into the right lane in advance
  • Obeying the posted speed limit
  • Changing lanes when the pavement indicates, but only when the traffic patterns allow for it

Drivers need to expect the unexpected. Workers may be entering or exiting the work area at slower speeds. They may enter the lane without warning. Other vehicles could stop suddenly, rapidly change lanes or make dangerous maneuvers that you have to watch out for, too.

As someone who has been a worker and a driver, it’s important for you to know that it’s a two-way street. Workers should try to remain within the work zone’s barriers and to give warning before entering the roadway. Pay attention and be aware of traffic. If you see a driver who doesn’t look like they’re paying attention, get out of the way.

Most construction zone accidents can be prevented, but only if drivers and workers do their part to be safe. If you are hit because a driver enters a work zone unexpectedly, workers’ compensation may be one way that you can seek compensation and medical coverage.

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