Goldberg Law talks about the dangers of car, motorcycle and bicycle accidents in road and highway construction zones
It doesn't take a whole lot of driving around in Lee County to come upon a road or highway construction project. From the installation of new sewer pipes on McGregor Boulevard near Downtown Fort Myers to the seemingly endless lengths of Interstate 75 being shut down or restricted, motorists and bicyclists need to use a lot of extra caution while trying to get around these days.
The fact that the rainy summer season is here only adds to the problems, and adds considerably. Tailgating, distracted driving, aggressive driving and speeding all lead to reduced stopping distances on the road, and skidding on the wet pavement is a major cause of serious rear-end auto, motorcycle and truck accidents.
Take a quick look at the Lee County government website that tracks local construction projects on our streets and highways, and you'll see 29 currently listed in some stage of development. Almost all of them involve some form of roadway construction. We've all seen the orange barrels guiding you down into one lane of traffic flow, and they're not always easy to figure out. People become confused about exactly where to go, and also come to abrupt stops if they can't determine which lane to be in. This can lead to serious crashes involving not only the motorists, but potentially the road crew workers standing nearby.
Locally, some construction zones have been a magnet for serious crashes, and the speed limits have been to blame, some say. In 2012, the interstate construction project located between Luckett Road and Palm Beach Boulevard was the scene of multiple accidents, causing serious injuries and closing down the highway for hours at a time. After so many crashes along that stretch, the Florida DOT reduced the speed limit from 70 mph to 60 mph, in an effort to reduce the number of accidents.
At that time, FDOT spokesperson Debbie Tower noted, “People are making dangerous decisions”, and she pointed to bad driving habits and slippery roads as other major crash factors. Florida Highway Patrol officials noted that keeping some extra distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, and keeping a watchful eye on speed limit signs and your speedometer, can make the difference in whether you make it to your destination safely.
“People these days are distracted, and this time of year the heavy rains can make driving really difficult for many drivers”, says area personal injury lawyer Scot D. Goldberg. “When you toss in the hazards involved in slowing down and negotiating a lane closure, you have the ideal recipe for a life altering rear-end collision”.
Here are a few tips to think about as you make your way around Lee County, from the USDOT Federal Highway Administration:
Stay Alert and Minimize Distractions
- Dedicate your full attention to the roadway
- Avoid changing the radio station, using a mobile phone, eating, or other distractions that can remove your concentration from the road
Keep Your Headlights On
Pay Attention to the Road
- “Listen to the signs”
- Watch brake lights on vehicles ahead
- Watch traffic around you and be prepared to react
Merge into the Proper Lane
- Merge well before you reach the lane closure
- Be aware that traffic patterns can change daily
- Follow other vehicles at a safe distance
Obey the Posted Speed Limit
- Workers may be present just feet away
- Fines may be doubled for moving traffic violations
- Be prepared to slow down further if conditions indicate the need
Change Lanes Safely
- Change lanes only where pavement markings indicate, and only when traffic conditions permit
Follow Instructions from Flaggers
Expect the Unexpected
- Workers, work vehicles, or equipment may enter your lane without warning
- Other vehicles may slow, stop, or change lanes unexpectedly
If you take anything away from the info above, please think about the last 2 items – slow down, take more time to get where you're going and keep an eye out for unexpected problems.
“There are a large number of factors that can result in a tragic motor vehicle accident where there are construction zones and a heavy afternoon downpour”, cautions attorney Goldberg. “In some cases, maybe a worker is not present to direct traffic, or they didn't place the roadway warning barriers correctly. When you're driving in a torrential downpour, it can be really hard to see where you should go.”
If you should find yourself, or someone you love, dealing with the devastating aftermath of a highway construction accident, give us a call. It doesn't cost a dime for your initial consultation, and we'll be able to help you determine the full extent of any financial losses for which you may be entitled compensation, and we'll aggressively fight for your legal rights with the barrage of insurance company regulations and demands you'll be facing.
Please leave a few minutes earlier than normal, grab your umbrella and stay focused on your driving, and nothing else. Highway work zones can be one the most dangerous situations a driver can face.