Due to the exponential rise in work zone accidents, the Arkansas Department of Transportation created Slow Down, Phone Down, a statewide zero-tolerance work zone safety campaign. It urges drivers to slow down and put their phones down, as those are the two most common causes of work zone accidents.
Construction zone speed limits are always posted, and you will see the tell-tale signs, orange cones, barrels, etc. before the construction site begins. Accidents in construction zones are easy to avoid if drivers take proper safety precautions. We’ll explain several things that can happen if safe driving habits in a construction zone aren’t followed.
You Can Get a Ticket or a Fine
If you speed in a construction zone, you have a much bigger chance of getting pulled over by the police and given a citation. Since February 2022, Arkansas State Police and Arkansas Highway Police have stationed themselves in work zones across the state with marked and low-profile patrols to crack down on reckless and distracted driving.
Additionally, as of August 2023, automated speed enforcement cameras are now legal in Arkansas Interstate work zones. The information gathered from these cameras is immediately sent to a police officer stationed further down the highway, who issues citations or warnings to those breaking the law.
Arkansas law states that traffic fines double when workers are present in a highway work zone. If you are given a citation for speeding within a work zone, the fine is much greater than the usual speeding ticket and can even sometimes result in your driver’s license being revoked temporarily.
Higher Chance of a Car Accident
Construction zones can be dangerous and unpredictable, and Arkansas ranks in the top half of states in the U.S. for fatal crashes in work zones. In 2021, more than 2,100 work zone crashes were reported in Arkansas, an increase of 70% since 2018. One of the most common types of car accidents in a work zone is a rear-end collision or fender-bender. By reducing your speed and keeping three seconds between you and the car in front of you, it lessens the chances of a rear-end collision.
Driving distracted or at a high rate of speed increases your chances of getting into a car accident, and doing so within a construction zone increases those odds even more due to lane closures, large equipment, etc. There were over 106,000 estimated work zone crashes in 2021, and most of those were attributed to fast speeds and distracted drivers.
Hazards in a Construction Zone
Arkansas has many active work zones impacting drivers across the state. I-40, especially, is under construction more than any other highway in the state, affecting routes east and westbound in Alma, West Memphis, and Lonoke. With long-standing construction zones come a lot of hazards like large trucks, construction equipment, uneven lanes, and road workers.
Dump trucks, pavers, excavator-type vehicles, and other work trucks constantly arrive and depart work zones and often impede traffic while they do their jobs. These vehicles can’t stop as quickly as a smaller car can, and they often have much bigger blind spots, which makes driving near them more dangerous.
When any road is under construction, there are lane barriers, large construction cones, other tools, and road repair materials. There are also often uneven lanes or large holes in the road that may not be properly marked or covered. Speeding through construction zones with all of these hazards present will easily cause car accidents to occur.
How To Drive Safely Through Work Zones
When you approach a work zone, it’s best if you share the road safely with other drivers and with the construction workers as well. Pay close attention to road workers and flaggers and give them extra space. Here are some ways you can drive safely through work zones:
- Reduce your speed
- Be prepared to stop unexpectedly
- Look for upcoming lane closures
- Keep space between your vehicle and those in front of you
- Pay attention to signs and signals
- Watch your blind spots
- Avoid distractions (cell phones, radios, eating, etc.)
Another great safety tip before you get on the road is to look up construction zones in your area or along the route to your destination and see if there are alternate routes or detours to avoid the work zone entirely. By following these guidelines, especially reducing your speed and avoiding distractions, car accidents in a construction zone are far less likely to occur.
You Can Seek Compensation
At McMath Woods P.A., we know car accidents cause physical, emotional, and financial damage, and we are here to help. We understand the challenges of pursuing a claim from a construction zone accident. Our team of dedicated construction zone accident lawyers will review your case and help you receive compensation.