Distracted drivers are responsible for more than a dozen deaths on American roads every day, and Portland personal injury attorneys have noted that construction zone car accidents are especially perilous places for drivers to be taking on cell phones or worse, texting.
The prevention of construction zone car accidents is purely dependent on drivers being completely alert and following the instructions posted. While this may not sound overly complicated, statistics on construction zone accidents seem to indicate that many drivers are simply unaware of the extra dangers in construction zones, or are unwilling to give due care and attention to the extra hazardous circumstances.
Figures regarding distracted driving accidents and construction zone car accidents recently released make for disturbing reading. Some of the more worrying facts include:
- More than 1,200 Americans per day are injured in accidents involving distracted drivers.
- In 2009 alone, more than 5,400 people were killed and 448,000 injured in distracted driver related accidents.
- More than 1,000 of those killed were in collisions where a driver was using a cell phone at the time of the crash.
What the law enforcement officers say
Police officers are almost always the first on the scene after a serious car accident. They have definite views on the factors that lead to many of these crashes, and they have especially strong feelings about construction zone car accidents.
In a survey of 402 law enforcement officials, they were asked what they considered the most dangerous driver behavior in construction zones. Twenty years ago, speeding would have been top of the list, but nowadays, this is not the case. In order, the officers rated the following behaviors as the most dangerous:
- Almost one-third (32 percent) of the officers surveyed put texting while driving in a construction zone as the most dangerous behavior.
- Not obeying traffic patterns came a distant second in the survey. Just 15 percent believed this was the most dangerous behavior.
- Aggressive driving and talking on a cell phone while driving came joint third in the survey, at 14 percent.
- Speeding has fallen from first to fifth in the survey, with just 13 percent of the officers surveyed believing speeding is the greatest contributor to construction zone accidents.
- Distracted driving that excluded talking on a cell phone (things like programming a GPS system, eating, doing make-up, etc.) accounted for 9 percent of the vote.
With the proliferation of cell phone use, law enforcers were very much agreed that construction zone accidents have been on the increase. Almost eight in ten (78 percent) of those surveyed said they had noticed an increase in construction zone accidents since they joined the police force.
Yet the drivers continue to break the rules
Using a cell phone while driving is a bad idea at any time, but using one in a construction zone is almost beyond comprehension. In spite of this, the police officers who took part in the survey said they estimate that at least 40 percent of drivers in construction zones are using their cell phones—an incredible figure.
Police believe the answer to preventing a large number of construction zone accidents is as simple as it would be unpopular. About 80 percent of the officers surveyed think the use of cell phones in construction zones should be banned completely. They say by doing so, the number of gruesome accidents they must respond to as part of their daily duties would be drastically reduced.
How to cut back on construction zone accidents
Drivers must play their part in reducing these needless and preventable accidents, and they can do so by following a few basic safety tips. When driving in a construction zone:
- Pay particular attention to electronic message boards (usually posted before the start of the construction zone), orange, diamond-shaped warning signs and signalers with flags.
- Observe the reduced speed limits. There’s a reason why fines are doubled for breaking speed limits in construction zones in a growing number of states.
- While driving in a construction zone, it is not the time to change radio stations or speak on a cell phone.
- Construction zones contain workers on foot, as well as large, dangerous equipment. Look out for the hazards, as well as the road users around you.
- Be alert for lane diversions and detours well before you reach them. This will help you avoid having to make sudden maneuvers other road users won’t expect.
- Look out for traffic that has stopped or that may suddenly slow down in front of you. Maintain a safe gap at all times.
Following these steps will help keep you safe, as well as the construction workers and other road users. Behaviors you should avoid include:
- Don’t accelerate or brake suddenly. Try to maintain a steady speed through construction zones where possible.
- Never tailgate! The vast majority of construction zone car accidents are rear-end collisions.
- Do not change lanes in a construction zone, even if you feel like the lane next to you might be moving at a better speed.
- Do not go back to the posted speed limit until you are completely clear of the construction zone.
Safe driving in construction zones is not brain surgery. It involves staying alert and paying attention to suddenly changing conditions, as well as avoiding all distractions. In 2007, 835 people died in construction zone car accidents; the vast majority of these incidents were preventable.
Try not to become a statistic, but if you have been injured in a construction zone accident by a distracted driver, don’t suffer in silence. Contact an experienced Portland distracted driver accident attorney who will make sure that your medical bills are covered by the at-fault driver, and that you’re not out of pocket for lost income. A good personal injury lawyer will guide you through the process of filing a claim, deal with the insurance companies and make sure you get the compensation you deserve.