Every driver or commuter on our Texas roads and highways dreads the coming of “orange barrel season,” when construction and work zones begin popping up left and right. A visit to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Drive Texas website will show you just how much work is being done the approximately 80,000 miles of roads maintained by the state. This work often proceeds around the clock. Unfortunately, an alarming number of accidents have been happening in work zones lately.
Here’s what you need to know about how car accidents happen in work zones, and what to do if you’re involved in a crash—and how to get legal help afterwards.
Work Zone Accident Crash Facts
TxDOT statistics from 2016 show that there were over 265,000 people injured in Texas car crashes and a traffic death occurred every two hours and twenty minutes, an increase of nearly 5.5 percent over 2015. As many as 25,713 accidents of any kind were reported to have occurred in construction or maintenance work zones, and 181 fatalities resulted. Perhaps most surprisingly, very few of those deaths were of road crew—96 percent of the people killed in work zones were drivers, bicyclists, or pedestrians.
How Car Accidents Happen in Work Zones
Work zones are by nature riskier to navigate than regular stretches of road. The leading cause of accidents in work zones is rear-end collisions. Sudden stops are common in work zones, and work zone road surfaces are often rough, bumpy, or uneven, which can make steering control difficult. There may be heavy equipment stationed or moving around close to the roadway, and tight quarters between barrels, cones, or dividers can reduce maneuvering room, too. Less room to maneuver leaves less margin for error if something happens to another car, such as a blown tire or a sudden breakdown. Speeding only makes things worse by reducing the ability to react in time to avoid a collision.
In a work zone, lane closures may be abrupt and signage indicating sudden merges may or may not be visible from a safe distance, especially at night. Road crews may make mistakes, too. A misplaced traffic cone or barrel can easily cause an accident. Road crews may also fail to maintain their equipment properly, causing dangerous conditions that can lead to an accident at any time of day.
What to Do After a Work Zone Crash
As with any car accident, knowing what to do after a crash in a work zone can save you a lot of time and legal headache later. Here’s what you can do:
- Call the police. If anyone has been injured or killed, or there’s anything more than minor vehicle damage, call 9-1-1 right away. Health and safety always come first after an accident.
- Exchange contact information. Get the name, address, phone number, license plate, and insurance information for the other drivers involved, as well as contact details for any passengers or other people involved in the crash. Emotions may be running high, but do your best to remain calm and polite. Avoid loose talk with other parties in the crash, though, as anything you say could potentially impact your legal situation later.
- Gather evidence at the scene. Construction zones are always changing, so if you’re able to do so without putting yourself or anyone else in jeopardy, take pictures of the accident and the area around it.
- Locate witnesses. If a road worker, driver who stopped, pedestrian, or other bystander saw the accident, ask for his or her contact information. Witnesses are an important source of information about what happened, and can help you make your case in court.
If you’ve been involved in a work zone accident, you may want to hire an attorney to protect your rights. Work zone accidents can be complicated, as there may be multiple parties involved. The government agency responsible for the road work may have even played a part in causing the accident. Your attorney will be able to help you decide how to seek compensation from all responsible parties, so that you can get full financial recovery after the accident.
How to Get Legal Help
Wayne Wright LLP has been standing up for the rights of accident victims for years, and we’re here to help you after your accident. If you’ve been involved in a serious work zone crash in Texas and it wasn’t your fault, we’d like to hear from you today. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation about your accident, call us by phone, click the live chat box on this page, or visit the contact link to send us a message today.