North Carolina drivers: Take care when driving by highway work zones

Published December 6, 2012

Construction work zones on highways and surface streets are necessary to maintain our infrastructure, but provide increased dangers for motorists and workers alike. When driving by or working in such an area, it is imperative for everyone to take certain safety precautions, to prevent serious injuries or even fatalities.

In 2009, there were a total of 667 accidents in work zones that resulted in at least one fatality, according to the Federal Highway Administration. In 2010, 72 percent of the fatal injuries for workers on the job occurred in road construction zones caused by auto accidents. From 2003 to 2007, a total of 639 workers died while on the job at a roadway work zone - those fatalities accounted for 7.9 percent of all construction worker occupational fatalities that year.

North Carolina work zone traffic accidents

In 2012 thus far, North Carolina has seen a total of 472 accidents in construction work zones.

The vast majority of the accidents occurred during the daytime - 91 percent - as roadwork is still primarily done during the day. According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, different factors typically lead to work zone accidents during the day and at night. Daytime accidents are often caused by distracted drivers, such as someone looking at a cellphone or GPS device. At nighttime, work zone accidents are more likely to be caused by a fatigued driver or someone under the influence of alcohol.

In an effort to decrease the number of work zone accidents, the move-over law in North Carolina was recently adapted to include construction vehicles. Under the revised law, motorists in North Carolina are required to change lanes whenever possible when approaching a construction vehicle with flashing lights. If the driver is unable to change lanes, the law requires that he or she slow down while passing the construction vehicle.

Prevent dangerous work zone accidents

Due to the dangerous nature of these accidents, taking certain precautions when driving or working can potentially be lifesaving. Above all, motorists must remain alert while driving - free from distractions and substances that could impair their ability to safely operate the vehicle. In addition, it is wise for construction workers to wear reflective clothing when working at night. Roadway work zones should also use signs to alert oncoming motorists of the construction, and use sufficient lighting at night to allow drivers to easily spot the work zone.

When a motorist or worker is injured in a work zone accident in North Carolina, it is critical to hold the responsible party accountable. A skilled, Fayetteville personal injury attorney will be able to advocate on behalf of the injured party and ensure just compensation is received.