Truck Crashes in Construction Zones a Concern for Georgia Workers, Motorists

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Last spring, a devastating crash in a construction zone left one worker and one semi truck driver dead.

The truck reportedly struck a line of cars that had been stopped in a construction zone in Colorado, causing the tractor trailer to flip, throwing the driver, crushing the worker and spilling a load of 40-foot poles all over the road.

Several years ago and a bit closer to home, when a 59-year-old driver was killed after struck by a logging truck that was speeding through a construction zone.

Incidents like this don’t need to happen.

Our Atlanta truck accident lawyers know that with spring approaching, work crews are going to be out in full force to repair the roads damaged by freeze-and-thaw cycles. It is critical that everyone driving through a construction zone follow all posted signs, keep their speed lowered and avoid all obvious distractions.

About a decade ago, Georgia was ranked No. 3 in terms of work zone fatalities. As of 2009, we ranked 4th, so we haven’t made much progress. That year, the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearing House reported that Georgia had 32 work zone fatalities. We were just behind California, Florida and Texas. Considering that population figures in each of these other states is far higher than our own, these statistics are abysmal.

In 2005 alone, we lost more than 60 people due to work zone crashes.

Across the country, approximately 40,000 people are injured each year in construction zone accidents. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that a work zone injury happens once every nine minutes (160 daily) and a fatality occurs every 8.2 hours (three every day).

But these crashes are virtually 100 percent preventable with actions taken by either the workers, the truck drivers or the general public motorists.

For construction crews, the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration recommends:

  • A traffic control plan for the movement of vehicles in areas where workers are conducting other tasks, with drivers, workers and pedestrians able to clearly see and understand the routes they are to follow;
  • Appropriate work zone protections so that construction material and debris won’t unnecessarily intrude on drivers;
  • Adequate training for those working as flaggers, equipment operators and drivers in highway work zones.

For both commercial drivers and truck drivers, the DOT recommends:

  • Slowing your speed, as this is one of the most common causes of work zone crashes;
  • Avoid tailgating other vehicles;
  • Obey road crew flaggers.
  • Remain sober and alert.
  • Read all the signs. If you find you are traveling too fast to read the signs, you need to slow down anyway.
  • Expect that you will likely encounter the unexpected. There may be lane shifts, reduced speeds and active work crews that may cause you to quickly re-adjust your route or speed.

Drivers in Georgia may also want to check out the state DOT’s regular updates on active road projects and potential detours or delays. For example, this month in the Metro Atlanta area, there are six major road projects being spear-headed by the DOT, including resurfacing on I-285 and the road widening project at Johnson Ferry/Abernathy Road. Knowing ahead of time that you may face delays will allow you to plan accordingly and reduce the risks to others.

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