While construction work often takes place as the weather improves, there are instances where work zones are present on major highways all throughout the year. With the construction on Interstate 30 happening through the end of 2019 and beyond, it’s important to take the time to recognize how often collisions happen in Arkansas work zones. Understanding the frequency and why they happen can aid in their prevention in the future.
If you’ve been involved in a work zone accident you believe to be the fault of someone else, you can pursue a personal injury claim to seek the compensation you need to recover.
Arkansas’s Work Zone Crash Data
According to the Arkansas 2017 Strategic Highway Safety Plan, less than one percent (approximately 0.03%) of roadway fatalities occur in work zones. This, however, is not an insignificant number. In 2014, there were 18 serious injuries in work zones. The majority of those zones were for construction. Of the 13 deaths, nine occurred in unknown work zones, three in construction zones, and one person was killed in a maintenance zone.
To compare those numbers to national data, there were 710 fatal crashes across the country in work zones, resulting in 799 deaths. The percentage of deaths related to all other fatal accidents is also less than one percent, but it’s lower than the Arkansas rate (approximately 0.02%).
The state focuses on decreasing the number of traffic accident deaths, including those that take place in work zones. By 2022, the state’s goal is to have no more than 11 work zone fatalities and 12 serious injuries. Their strategies include improving work zone management, involving law enforcement, addressing emergency services deficiencies, and educating the public on the dangers of work zones.
Understanding Why Work Zones Are Dangerous
While a traffic accident can occur at any time for a number of reasons, it’s important to understand why construction work zones are dangerous. It only takes a second for a reckless driver or negligent construction worker to cause a crash.
While those working in construction zones are at risk of being struck by a vehicle, it’s more likely that a driver will be the victim of an accident. Improperly placed machinery, inadequate signage, or workers disregarding safety protocols can cause a wreck. Depending on the speed at which the driver was traveling and the heavy machinery nearby, the accident could result in catastrophic or fatal injuries.
Drivers have a responsibility to drive safely in work zones. It’s important to reduce your speed to the posted limit and stay in your lane. When traffic is slow, keep extra distance between you and the car in front of you. This will ensure you have time to brake in the event of an emergency stop. Fully understanding how to drive in a work zone also means understanding the state laws you’re required to follow.
State Work Zone Laws in Arkansas
All states have laws regarding safe driving practices in work zones. In addition to providing information on proper driving techniques, the laws often increase the penalties for speeding or committing other traffic violations. While not every driver follows the laws, they are in place in an attempt to lower the figures in the crash data presented above.
Prior to obtaining a driver’s license, there’s an instructional manual to read. In Arkansas, that manual discusses the effects and hazards of unsafe driving through highway work zones. It also addresses the penalties for driving unsafely in those zones, which are typically assessed by a trial judge.
Drivers in Arkansas are not allowed to use a handheld wireless telephone while driving in a highway work zone where workers are present. Exceptions exist for emergency situations and law enforcement officers.
It’s also a Class D felony to intentionally move, cover, alter, tamper with, or damage any sign, signal, or device in a construction area that controls the flow of motor vehicle or pedestrian traffic.
While the laws above can reduce work zone accidents and fatalities, they only do so when drivers follow them. If a negligent driver speeds through construction or is distracted by their phone, the chances of them causing an accident are high. If you’ve been injured in a work zone crash, you have the right to file a car accident claim and seek compensation for your losses. The attorneys from McMath Woods P.A. are prepared to represent you and help you build a claim that proves you were wrong. To get started with the litigation process, schedule a free case review today.