We all know that getting stopped in road construction in Los Angeles can be frustrating. Sometimes you have to wait for what seems like forever before you are waived through. You are also required to drive under the usual posted speed limit, which can make you late to your destination.
Construction zones can feel like an annoyance. However, they’re a necessary evil. In fact, they’re crucial to ensuring that the roads you drive on are properly maintained and safe to use.
During road work, conditions may not be ideal for ordinary driving. For that reason, it is important to be aware and follow all road signs and signals. Failure to do so can lead to car accidents, injuries, and sometimes death.
Road construction can create additional hazards for drivers. These might include:
There may also be obstacles in the road, such as cones, misplaced signs, loose debris, and construction machinery.
There are other less obvious hazards that often exist in construction zones. These might include utility access holes, uneven surfaces, and poor lighting. Although workers do their best to alert drivers of these issues, unknown hazards can and do appear for drivers.
You should also be aware that other drivers can get impatient in construction zones and will often exceed the posted speed limit. For this reason, it is always a good policy to drive defensively and stay alert to your surroundings.
By the numbers, work zones account for 24 percent of highway congestion and 10 percent of overall traffic congestion. In addition, thousands of collisions related to road construction zones are reported every year.
In fact, the Federal Highway Administration reports that the number of fatalities in construction zones is increasing. You might find it shocking to learn that in 2017 alone there were 799 construction zone-related deaths. Of these fatalities, 658 were drivers or passengers in a vehicle. Further, speeding was a contributing factor in nearly one-third (203) of these fatal collisions.
While driving safely and following construction zone signs and signals is important, accidents will happen from time to time that aren’t your fault. Sometimes the mishap is due to a mistake made by the road crew. For example, there could be a lack of reasonable care taken by workers (known as negligence) in safety planning. In this case, you may have a claim against the city, county, and/or the construction company involved with the project.
If there is not sufficient signage to properly warn drivers of known dangers in the construction zone, this could also be grounds for a lawsuit. An example might be if a crew is excavating pipes under the road and without warning, you drive into an open trench causing damage to your car.
You may also have a claim against another driver that collides with your vehicle. An example would be if the driver is acting negligently in the work zone by either exceeding the posted speed or driving while distracted.
In cases where you do have a valid claim, you may be entitled to financial compensation. These cash awards might include money for your medical bills, reimbursement for damage to your car, lost income you incurred as a result of the accident, as well as amounts for pain and suffering. If the accident caused the death of a close family member, you may also be able to recover damages for the loss of that person’s support and companionship.
It is in your best interest and the interest of those around you to drive safely and cautiously in a construction zone. Failure to do so will not only increase your risk of causing an accident, but it may also reduce the amount you are entitled to claim as a result of a collision caused in part by another driver.
In addition to following all posted speed limits, you should always pay attention when merging lanes, and make sure to keep a proper distance between your vehicle and the car ahead of you. Take weather conditions into account as well. Adjust your speed when the road conditions warrant it, such as in times where there is rain or snow.
Finally, avoid driving distracted. This is especially important in construction zones and means refrain from things like text messaging, making phone calls, and adjusting the music.
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