Are Construction Zones Becoming More Dangerous?

by Terry Bryant

Without road construction workers, we wouldn’t have the transportation infrastructure in place that is necessary to get us where we want to go. Unfortunately, however, this critical job is filled with serious risks to worker safety. The number of deaths in road constructions zones tells the very grim story. According to CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training, a national organization seeking to increase safety in construction fields, 532 road construction workers were killed on the job from 2011 to 2016, and many more were injured. This fatality rate is more than twice the total for all other industries combined. The majority of these workers—approximately three-quarters of them—worked on bridge, highway, and street projects.

Fatality Causes

What are the main causes of death in road construction zones?

Perhaps not surprisingly, approximately half of the workers who died were pedestrian workers who were hit by motor vehicles or mobile construction equipment. Next were workers operating vehicles who were involved in roadway accidents. Falls, electrocution, or being struck by objects or caught in construction equipment were some of the other leading reasons for fatalities.

Construction site crossing guards had the highest fatality rate, at 40.9 per 100,000, followed by paving/surfacing operators. The period from June through October saw the most fatalities.

And sadly, the fatality rate is increasing for workers on road construction sites. The number of deaths increased from a low of 72 in 2013 to 103 in 2016, a more than 40% increase in just three years.

Stemming the Fatality Tide

How can this rising death rate be reversed? Agencies including OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Federal Highway Administration, and CPWR have proposed various plans to increase road worker safety. Some of the ideas include creating barriers between traffic and workers, increasing worker visibility, enforcing reduced speeds in construction zones, and closing roads or rerouting traffic where possible.

Drivers can also do their part to reduce road construction worker deaths and injuries. Observing the posted reduced speeds in the “cone zone” is one important way to reduce risk to workers. Here are some other common-sense driving safety tips for passing through construction zones offered by the American Society of Safety Engineers:

  • Pay careful attention to flaggers and warning signs and message boards posted in and near construction zones.
  • Stay alert by minimizing distractions. Don’t make a call on your cell phone, change the radio, or do other things that take your eyes off the road and hands off the wheel.
  • Watch for workers on foot as well as in construction vehicles.
  • Keep an eye out for slowing or stopped traffic, and never tailgate.
  • Avoid changing lanes in a work zone.
  • Be extra cautious when driving through a construction zone after dark.

By practicing safe driving in construction zones, drivers in Texas and throughout the country can help save lives.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a construction-related accident, the experienced attorneys at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law are here to help. Call us at 1 (800) 444-5000 or contact us through our online form. Get the compensation you deserve.