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Dangers in Construction Zones

Casey Woodruff

undefinedWhen you’re driving through a construction zone or walking alongside a construction area, it’s important to be aware of dangers that can cause serious personal injuries to passersby. In the summertime, the warm weather often means that more construction projects will be happening around Chicago. But what happens if you get hurt in a construction zone?

General Hazards Posed By Construction Areas

When most of us walk by a construction zone in downtown Chicago, we’re not paying particular attention to the hazards that are likely just a few feet away. However, it’s important to know your surroundings. And even if fencing or other barriers are up to protect pedestrians from the dangers within construction zones, accidents can happen. Indeed, pedestrians can face some of the same risks as construction workers, including but not limited to injuries from:

  • Heavy falling objects;
  • Uneven pavement;
  • Slick walking surfaces;
  • Potholes;
  • Uncovered manholes;
  • Defective or improperly operated machinery;
  • Negligently operated construction vehicles;
  • Improperly contained chemical substances; and
  • Debris on the road or walkway.

Even though it might seem like you’re separated from a construction zone, you need to remember that just behind the barriers are extremely heavy machines, heavy objects, and potentially hazardous substances. And some of those same threats can pose serious risks to drivers in and around construction areas.

Construction Zone Risks on the Road

Construction zone dangers exist for more than just pedestrians who pass by project sites. Passenger vehicles in construction zones can be at risk of a severe car accident caused by some of the same hazards faced by a passerby. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), more than 700 motorists and construction workers sustained fatal injuries in construction zones in 2008, while another 40,000 suffered injuries. In most cases, the drivers and their occupants were the ones who got hurt. And that number doesn’t appear to be getting smaller.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that, on average, around 700 fatalities have occurred each year in roadway construction zones between 2007 and 2012. For the agency, the number of deaths and injuries doesn’t come as a shock, given that “roadway work zones are hazardous both for motorists who drive through the complex array of signs, barrels, and lane changes and for workers” in charge of construction. If you’re in a passenger vehicle, what can you do to avoid a deadly auto accident in a construction zone?

To “make construction zones safer for everyone,” the NHTSA recommends the following:

  • Always maintain the posted speed limit. In addition to increasing the risk of a deadly traffic collision, speeding in a roadway work zone often comes with a hefty fine.
  • Always obey any road crew flaggers. Their directions function just like any other regulatory sign on the road.
  • Concentrate on the road and avoid distracted driving, including talking or texting on a cell phone while you’re in an area under construction. Remember, under Illinois law, all cell phone use is prohibited if you’re driving in a construction zone.
  • Never tailgate and maintain a safe distance from the vehicle directly in front of you.

If you or a loved one sustained injuries in or around a construction zone, you may be eligible for compensation. You should discuss your case with an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer. Contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans today to find out about how we can help with your claim.

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