Road construction and maintenance is a necessary part of life in our times, especially here in California where driving is such a necessary part of our daily lives. At the Brod Law Firm, we represent Northern California automobile accident victims. As Sacramento car accident lawyers, we know that construction zones can be particularly dangerous and that it is especially important to exercise care when driving through work zones or when traffic is detoured to a less travelled route to accommodate road work.
This week Caltrans and the Sacramento Bee urged caution and asked drivers to slow down when using the current Highway 65 detour. Traffic-shifting to accommodate the Lincoln Bypass construction began in June and currently includes a 20mph speed limit in the northbound lanes of the highway in Lincoln near Sterling Parkway. The $325 million project is scheduled to be completed next summer and detours will likely remain in place until the new 11.7 mile span of roadway is opened. When it is finished, the roadway should be an asset to the region’s commuters but the construction process can be frustrating and carries an increased danger of automobile accidents.
According to statistics compiled by federal authorities, there were 680 fatalities in construction zone automobile accidents in 2009, a decrease from 720 the prior year. The studies indicate that at least 46 of the 2009 deaths occurred here in California. Additionally, the 2008 study found 20,000 individuals were injured nationwide in work zone car accidents. Surveys suggest that the most dangerous part of a construction area is the beginning of the designated zone, perhaps due to drivers driving too quickly and having difficulty merging into a new traffic pattern.
In response to safety concerns, the California Department of Transportation began a “Slow for the Cone” initiative in 2000. The program continues to work on safety-oriented promotions to urge California drivers to navigate construction areas with particular care. Likewise, the Federal Highway Administration has directed specific funds to work zone safety efforts, including $6 million marked in 2009 for Work Zone Safety Grants and the National Work Zone Safety Clearinghouse. Efforts at the federal level to reduce the number of such incidents include programs in education and enforcement as well as engineering studies to determine the practices that best help prevent work area auto accidents.
Like many states, California law recognizes the danger of work zones to both drivers and construction personnel. Where workers and signage are present, the fee for a traffic violation is doubled in a work zone. It is also common for speed limits to be reduced in a construction zones. Drivers should be alert for signage altering a standard speed limit, particularly on roads they travel frequently where they might proceed on auto-pilot with the assumption they know the applicable speed regulations. Road crews also bear responsibility to those travelling on the roads and they are required to properly mark changes and ensure appropriately sized and accessible travel lanes.
If you are the victim of a Northern California construction zone car accident, contact the skilled Sacramento personal injury attorney at the Brow Law Firm. Our team can help you determine what claims you may have against other drivers or the construction company and can ensure you recover damages.