Drivers in Nevada are no strangers to road work and construction zones. What they may be less familiar with, though, is how to drive safely through these work zones. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, there have been more than 4,400 deaths and over 200,000 people injured in work zones nationwide over the past five years. Read on to discover helpful work-zone safety tips for driving through these areas.
Entering Construction Zones
There should be adequate indicators and signage to forewarn drivers about upcoming work zones. As you enter the construction, the speed limit will drop, traffic will slow, and lane patterns may change. Ensure that you stay alert while driving in this area to minimize distractions and maintain safety.
Work Zone Safety Tips
In addition to staying alert to the roadwork and traffic flow, we have a few other tips that can help you drive through a work zone safely.
Merge Ahead of Time
If you are approaching a work zone and see signs about lane closures ahead, you should start to merge out of the lane or lanes that will be closed. By merging early, you are less likely to get stuck in a long line of people all attempting to get over at the last moment.
Maintain a Safe Following Distance
Tailgating, following too closely to another car, is a contributing factor to over one-third of car crashes every year. This is a particularly common problem in work zones where vehicles tend to drive nose-to-tail and and stop or slow down suddenly, without warning.
A good rule of thumb is to maintain a distance of three to five seconds — more if the weather is bad — between you and the next car. To gauge this, wait for the car in front of you to pass a stationary object, such as a road work sign, then count how many seconds it takes your car to pass the same object. If it is less than three seconds, pull back to allow more space.
Follow Posted Speed Limits
To ensure the safety of workers and drivers in work zones, speed limits typically drop from originally posted signs. In Nevada, the speed limit can only be dropped 10 mph lower than the existing limits, but the fine for not following these reduced speeds doubles to $1,000.
Carefully Change Lanes
Most work zones limit or prohibit lane changes until drivers have passed through the area. This is done to help maintain road construction zone safety for drivers and workers and to ease the flow of traffic since drivers, in theory, should stay in their own lane. If you must change lanes, make sure that you only do so when road lines indicate it and traffic safely allows for it.
Plan for Changes
Even if driving through a work zone is part of your daily commute, things can change from day to day as work gets completed. Pay close attention every time you pass through the work zone so that you are aware of lane change patterns or new closures. Additionally, vehicles could be entering the highway in new places, so it is important to plan for that as well.
Follow these helpful tips to drive safer, and smarter, in construction work zones. However, in the unfortunate event that you are involved in a work-zone car accident, read on to learn what you should do.
Handling an Accident
If you are part of a car accident in a work zone that involves another driver, get out of the flow of traffic, if possible, and contact local law enforcement to start an accident report.
Most accidents in work zones are results of drivers speeding, tailgating, or not paying attention. However, there are certain instances where the construction company or local government could be liable for accidents in a work zone.
To determine if the work zone operators are responsible for an accident, certain conditions need to be met, including:
- lack of adequate warning or detour signs
- equipment left in roadways, creating hazards for drivers
- failing to direct traffic, if needed
- not blocking off or alerting drivers to dangerous areas
- inadequately marking lane changes due to construction
What to Do Next
Regardless of how it happens, if you are involved in a vehicle accident in a work zone, get yourself checked out by a medical professional, then contact a personal injury attorney before dealing with the insurance companies.
At Shook & Stone, our legal experts are here to help you through the entire process; whether you were injured by another driver or due to negligence in a work zone. You can contact our lawyers by calling 702-570-0000 to get a free case review. We serve throughout Las Vegas, Reno, Henderson, and the entire state of Nevada, so let us help you today.