Driving in New York, whether you’re in the city or out on the highways, means encountering construction areas—it’s just a part of life. Now that summer is here, construction will also heat up in the City. However, these construction zones present very real dangers: not only for construction workers, but also for drivers passing through the area.
Driver Safety in Construction Areas
Construction zones can be a major inconvenience and hassle when we’re driving, but they’re vital for keeping roads in good condition and reducing future accidents. As drivers, we have a responsibility and legal obligation to take certain precautions when driving around and through construction zones.
The simplest and most important thing we need to do as motorists in construction sites is slow down to the speed posted in the area, and go even slower in bad weather. Fines for speeding are doubled in construction areas throughout the entire state, and penalties for repeat offenses can include license suspension and jail time. It is important to watch for workers and follow traffic directions, and to be aware of other drivers to react to sudden lane changes, speed reduction, or stops.
Of course, construction presents some very real risks to drivers as well. Here are some of the hazards you’ll probably find in a construction zone:
- Potholes. Roadwork is typically meant to repair potholes, yet the tools and vehicles they use can actually create these hazards. Hitting a pothole can be very rough on a car, often resulting in tire damage or offsetting alignment and suspension. In some serious situations, striking a pothole can result in a crash as a driver loses control of the vehicle after hitting the hole.
- Construction materials. State regulations require that all materials used in construction must be kept clear of roads and removed after work is complete. When workers fail to follow these laws, drivers are put at risk if they strike equipment, tools, or materials on the road. At the very least, these items present serious dangers to the tires of a vehicle that strikes them. A tire blowout can also result in other collisions, creating a chain reaction with much more serious consequences. For smaller vehicles like motorcycles, leftover materials can result in catastrophic, even fatal, accidents for a biker.
- Flying debris. Dust and other debris are often kicked up by workers on construction sites, especially when using jackhammers and similarly powerful equipment. Dust and debris can be a distraction and reduce visibility around a construction site, making it even more important to slow down. Larger pieces of debris can strike and damage windshields or even pass into an open window and harm a driver or passenger in a car.
- Construction vehicles. Vehicles used by construction crews can present dangers to other drivers on the road, and not just by adding to traffic congestion. Building materials, equipment, and tools on these vehicles might not be secured properly, which creates the risk of objects spilling out of a truck and striking a car. At the very least, this can place foreign objects on the roadway, while more serious events can result in heavy machines striking a car or truck.
Construction Companies Must Keep Drivers Safe
Safety around construction sites is usually the responsibility of a driver, but construction companies also have a duty to make sure drivers passing by are kept safe. There are strict guidelines in place regarding how a construction site needs to be set up on a roadway, including the area before and after where the actual work is being done. Signs need to be posted, barricades erected, and everything must be done with enough space so that drivers can reasonably respond to a construction zone.
When companies fail to follow these regulations, they may be held responsible for collisions that occur. For example, if a driver strikes the rear end of another vehicle, that driver is usually considered at fault. However, if the collision occurred because a construction site was set up incorrectly, so the drivers did not have enough time and distance to react, the construction company may be at fault.
Have questions about your New York City car accident that took place near a construction zone? Wondering if your injuries should be paid for by a construction company? The top personal injury attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, will help you find out. Call us for a free consultation at (212) 986-7353 today!