Watch the road: tips for keeping yourself and construction workers safe on the highway

For construction workers, being on the road comes with an increased risk of injury. Here are a few tips on how to keep construction workers safe.

Posted Updated
Abbey Slattery WRAL Digital Solutions
This article was written for our sponsor, Whitley Law Firm.

Construction zones can not only be one of the most dangerous driving zones, but also one of the most dangerous work zones. With potential distractions to drivers, changes to the road condition and difficult work conditions, workers in construction zones are especially at risk of injury.

In fact, the Department of Transportation found that from 1982 to 2017, 27,037 people died as a result of work zone crashes. In the past few years, the average number of road construction-related deaths has increased. Additionally, pedestrian vehicle crashes account for 50% of fatal injuries in the field.

"Road construction can be one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, and transportation incidents are actually one of the most frequent types of workplace fatalities," said Ben Whitley, attorney at Whitley Law Firm. "To keep construction workers and drivers safe, there are certain safety-first habits that everyone should adhere to, especially in a place like the Triangle where we see so many active construction sites."

For drivers, there are several things to consider that help keep construction workers safe. First, always pay attention to important signage. That means reducing speed when indicated and paying attention to the road ahead of you. Oftentimes, signage will warn of changes in the road or sections with active workers.

In many cases, the risk of steep fines can be enough to dissuade drivers from speeding through construction zones. Still, the threat of fines doesn't always work.

"Drivers should remember that construction workers are just trying to get their jobs done like everyone else — so they should slow down, be aware and follow any posted signs," said Whitley. "In the case that an accident or traffic violation does happen, drivers could face much steeper fines than usual — and potentially jail time, depending on the severity of the offense."

Maintaining the proper speed in a construction is one of the easiest ways to make conditions safer for all involved. Not only will this allow drivers more time to react, but it can also account for certain road conditions, like loose gravel or changes in traffic patterns, that might otherwise be difficult to react to.

While delays from construction can be frustrating for certain drivers, speeding through construction zones has more risks than rewards. For those in a hurry, it may be best to avoid construction zones altogether.

"With modern technology, it's easier than ever to pre-plan your route," said Whitley. "If your driving would potentially risk the safety of a construction worker, then you may consider taking an alternate route that bypasses any construction. Not only could that make your trip quicker, but it could also prevent any accidents from happening if you're in a rush."

While construction happens every season of the year, summer is the most active time. For construction workers on the road, knowing the latest safety tips can help keep them injury-free — especially when it comes to falls, which are among the most common types of construction-related injuries.

"Most safe employers are going to have safety briefings, tool talks or different resources available for workers in construction sites so they can review safety protocols. Make sure you pay attention to these, because you'll find a lot of great tips for protection," said Whitley. "We see a lot of accidents with this type of job, but good contractors have safety meetings every morning, where they talk about fall protection and other safety-related issues. Discussing it amongst a group tends to reinforce some of those principles of safety."

While no one plans to get injured on the job, the nature of construction does make it one of the riskier occupations. For those who have had a workplace injury, they may be entitled to certain compensation.

"Anytime a worker is working over six feet in height, it's required by OSHA for them to have some sort of fall protection in place. Unfortunately we see cases where people aren't using these correctly or the fall protection fails," said Whitley. "If you do have any kind of issues with an on-the-job injury, we offer free consultations for anyone with questions."

This article was written for our sponsor, Whitley Law Firm.


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