How often are work zones a factor in car accidents?

With so many expansion and maintenance projects underway on Illinois and other state roadways every day, avoiding road construction is virtually impossible. For many drivers, these work zones can be a highly dangerous place to navigate. In fact, work-zone crashes are on the rise across the state and nation, and there are a number of different factors that together make work zones a hazardous place to be.

Construction zones are so dangerous nowadays, in fact, that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration reports that more than 96,600 crashes occurred in construction zones in 2015. Additionally, the number of work-zone-related crashes occurring on the nation’s roadways rose 42 percent between 2013 and 2015, with one work-zone crash now happening every 4.5 seconds.

Multiple dangers

Work zones present a variety of hazards for the motoring public, and while some of them are directly related to the construction underway, others stem from fellow drivers who are also trying to navigate their way through these sometimes confusing areas. You may, for example, find it difficult to see in work zones because large equipment or machinery is in your way, or you may experience confusion because of unclear detours or traffic patterns. Potholes and loose pavement can also cause problems in work zones, and such hazards may prove particularly dangerous after dark.

Other drivers can also present serious hazards in work zones, especially if they are already breaking the law when they enter them. For example, of the 607 fatal construction-zone crashes that occurred in 2014, speed was a contributing factor in 172 of them. Meanwhile, alcohol consumption was a factor in 132 of them, and a failure to wear a seat belt played a role in another 133 work-zone crashes.  

Currently, construction-zone fatalities account for between 1.5 and 3 percent of all American roadway fatalities. Therefore, motorists have a duty to exercise extreme care when working their way through them to avoid unnecessarily endangering the public.