How Do I Avoid a Car Accident in a Construction Zone?
October 6, 2021
The infrastructure bill now under review in Congress calls for billions of dollars in spending to rebuild America’s roads and bridges. If the bill becomes law, motorists across the U.S. will likely see more construction zones as they travel the nation’s highways.
Speed limits and other traffic restrictions in work zones are designed to ensure the safety of drivers and construction workers alike. Reviewing the rules for driving in construction zones can help motorists avoid car accidents as they approach or enter a work zone. However, even the most conscientious driver can get into a car accident at any time if the crash was someone else’s fault. If that happens, drivers should contact a qualified lawyer to ensure their rights are preserved.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has established the following rules for driving in construction zones:
- Obey posted speed limits. Drivers must slow down and abide by the lower speed limits that are posted in construction zones. Penalties are harsh if drivers disregard these limits when workers are present. Active work zones are clearly indicated by a white flashing light. Motorists may lose their driver’s license for 15 days if they are caught driving 11 miles per hour or more above the posted speed limit or if they are involved in an accident in an active work zone and convicted of driving over the speed limit.
- Turn on headlights. Motorists must turn on their headlights in a posted construction zone even if it is not an active work zone. If the car has daytime running lights, drivers must still turn on their headlights in order to activate their taillights.
It is important to note that drivers may also face higher fines for other traffic violations that occur in work zones. For example, the fines for speeding and driving under the influence are doubled in construction zones. Judges can also order additional jail time for drivers convicted of homicide by vehicle in an accident that happened in an active work zone.
The rules for driving in a construction zone are meant not only to keep the roads safer for drivers, but also to protect construction zone workers.
What Dangers Do Construction Zone Workers Face?
Construction zone workers face multiple dangers on the job. Each year, more than 100 workers die in construction zone car accidents, according to data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the U.S. Department of Labor. Some of the more common dangers that construction zone workers face include the following:
- Proximity to passing vehicles. Flaggers are especially at risk for serious injury by speeding cars.
- Workers who operate heavy machinery risk injury due to collisions with cars or other construction vehicles.
- Poor visibility. Construction zones may be active at night or during foggy weather. High levels of traffic may also impede the visibility of workers on foot or operating equipment.
Fatal work zone injuries among roadcrews remain a significant public health concern. The state of Pennsylvania has instituted measures for enforcing construction zone laws to protect drivers as well as workers.
How are Construction Zone Laws Enforced?
PennDOT is responsible for repairing and maintaining more than 40,000 miles of roadways and 25,000 bridges in the state of Pennsylvania. Due to this large scope of operation, construction zone laws are now being enforced by the use of speed cameras as well as law enforcement officers on patrol.
The state of Pennsylvania began using speed cameras to enforce laws in construction zones in March 2020. The program is officially called the Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement (AWZSE). It has been implemented through a joint effort between PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC), in partnership with the Pennsylvania State Police. Within one year of its implementation, more than 200,000 speeding tickets were issued based on the evidence provided by the cameras.
The state of Pennsylvania provides drivers with ample warning about speeding tickets in construction zones. Drivers see at least two warning signs along with the posted speed limit before they enter a work zone monitored by speed cameras.
The investment in speed cameras appears to be working.
What are the Fines for Violations Detected by Speed Cameras?
The AWZSE cameras only operate in active construction zones when workers are present. Fines for violations detected by speed cameras in construction zones include the following:
- First violation: A written warning issued to the driver, sent through the mail. No financial penalty.
- Second violation: A fine of $75.
- Third violation and subsequent violations: A fine of $150.
Most of the violations issued in the first year of the AWZSE program were first-time violations. At present, drivers are not assessed points against their licenses if they are issued a violation captured by a speed camera. The state of Pennsylvania has stated that revenue collected from fines will be used to covering the cost of operating speed cameras and administering fine collection.
Tips for Driving Safely in a Construction Zone
Whether speed cameras are implemented in a given area, motorists can help avoid work zone accidents by adhering to the tips for driving safely in a construction zone:
- Obey posted speed limits.
- Turn on headlights if instructed.
- Never tailgate.
- Avoid changing lanes.
- Pay attention, and do not text or talk on the phone.
- Watch for construction workers and heavy machinery.
- Be patient.
- Wait until you are out of the construction zone before changing lanes and resuming normal speed.
Car accidents are more likely to happen as motorists approach a construction zone. However, even careful drivers who are following the rules may still be involved in a serious collision or multi-car pile-up when approaching a work zone.
Recovering your health after a serious accident can be a financially and emotionally draining experience. Insurance companies may attempt to deny or minimize your claim, making it impossible to recoup your losses fully. Enlisting the help of an experienced car accident lawyer is the best way to protect your rights.
How Has Galfand Berger LLP Helped Individuals Injured in Construction Zones?
Galfand Berger LLP has obtained significant settlements for injured parties and their families, including the following claim resulting from a fatal accident:
These are just two examples of the many difficult cases handled by our seasoned legal team at Galfand Berger LLP. We are always ready and willing to take on difficult cases in order to protect our clients’ rights.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Uphold the Rights of Drivers Injured in Construction Zone Accidents
Construction zones present serious risks to even the most careful drivers. If you or someone you know has been injured in a construction zone accident, speak with our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP. Complete our online form or call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) to schedule a free consultation. Based in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.