Eyes on the Road: How WSDOT is Combating Work Zone Dangers

| Blog

Work zones are a common sight on Washington roads, especially during the summer. The Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) takes the lead on road repairs, but they rely on motorists to drive safely to prevent accidents. According to KING 5, at least nine WSDOT workers have been hospitalized since the start of 2024 after collisions happening in work zones. Some of them were struck by speeding motorists, while others were injured when a drunk driver crashed.

In total 61 state workers have died in work zone accidents since 1950. Motorists and innocent passengers can also be injured in these wrecks. At Grupo Para La Gente, we never miss an opportunity to promote public safety. Helping injured accident victims is part of our mission. Please call us if you are injured as a motorist or worker in one of these collisions. You might be entitled to compensation.

Camera Installation is Coming

In response to the high number of injuries, legislators passed a law in 2023 requiring the installation of speed cameras in work zones. Governor Inslee signed the bill, and the cameras are expected to be online by July 2024.

These cameras will automate enforcement. A camera will transmit information about an offense to law enforcement, which will then verify the infraction and issue a citation. Because the camera will record information about the speed and vehicle, getting out of this kind of ticket will be difficult.

How to Avoid Work Zone Accidents

Motorists should remember to exercise extreme caution as they approach a work zone. This means they should:

1.       Slow down and move over. The speed limit is lower in construction zones, due to the congestion. You might need to move over if an ambulance or other vehicle with lights flashing comes up behind you.

2.       Stay focused. Put away all distractions, like your phone or GPS device. Also limit conversations and turn the radio down. A construction worker might step into the flow of traffic at any moment, and you need eyes peeled.

3.       Obey all signs and flaggers. Flaggers will tell you where to go and when to stop. If you ignore a sign or flagger, the odds of an accident go up.

4.       Maintain a safe distance. You want several seconds of distance, which gives you enough cushion to stop in case a car ahead hits the brakes.

5.       Plan ahead. Check traffic routes and whether you need to leave early. Most speeding motorists are running behind schedule.

By following these rules, you can ensure no workers are struck and can avoid a ticket at the same time.

Your Legal Rights as a WSDOT Employee

Injured employees should realize they have critical legal rights if they are hurt in a work zone accident. Here are some highlights:

  • Workers’ compensation will cover the cost of medical treatment for any injury, and replace a portion of lost wages when your injuries prevent you from working.
  • You have a right to choose your own doctor for treatment, and workers’ compensation should pay for all reasonable and necessary medical care.
  • You should promptly report any injury to your employer. Do not delay.
  • This is a no-fault system, which means it doesn’t matter if the worker was negligent. For example, a worker could have failed to pay attention and accidentally stepped into the flow of traffic, whereupon they were hit. They should still qualify for benefits.
  • Injured workers can file a claim with the Department of Labor & Industries to determine if they are covered.
  • Your employer should coordinate a return to work after an injury. This transition can include light-duty work with medical restrictions.

Remember, workers must follow all required steps after an accident, including reporting an injury promptly. Call an experienced lawyer at Premier Law Group if you need help.

Common Causes of Work Zone Accidents

These accidents happen quickly, and many victims are unsure of what happened. In our experience, most accidents are caused by:

  • Driver negligence. A negligent driver can cause an accident because they fail to drive safely. Common examples include tailgating, ignoring signs, speeding, and driving while distracted.
  • Road debris. Tools, equipment, rocks, and other debris can cause a driver to swerve or lose control of a vehicle. Either way, they can crash into other vehicles or WSDOT workers.
  • Traffic control devices. These devices might be set up improperly, increasing the risk of crashing. Or they could malfunction and not work properly, causing dangerous accidents.
  • Vehicle defects. Brakes need to be in excellent condition for a motorist to stop their vehicle in time.

Whoever is responsible for the accident might be liable in a personal injury lawsuit. For example, an injured WSDOT worker can’t sue their employer. But they might sue a negligent motorist for striking them.

How Workers Can Prevent Accidents

Motorists are to blame for most collisions. Nonetheless, WSDOT workers can reduce their risk by taking sensible precautions:

  • Dress appropriately. You want to be visible and should wear bright clothing, like an orange vest.
  • Stay hydrated. It gets hot in the summer, and dehydration can lead to confusion and poor judgment.
  • Provide proper safety equipment. Workers should have boots, goggles, hard hats, and highly visible clothing.
  • Train workers in best safety practices. Workers should avoid walking between equipment or walking with traffic. Train on how to use communication devices, because work zones tend to be loud.
  • Provide ample light. Any work at night is especially dangerous, for both motorists and workers. Provide adequate lighting but control for glare, which can impair motorists.
  • Implement a traffic control plan. A well-designed work zone should limit traffic with flaggers or alternative traffic management systems. It should also have barriers and fences.

If everyone implements best safety practices, then the number of accidents should fall.

Call Premier Law Group Today

Our firm has helped countless injured motorists and employees seek compensation following an accident. The law is complex, and getting the financial compensation you need takes initiative and legal knowledge. Premier Law Group is available to meet with anyone injured in a work zone accident. Contact us to schedule your free consultation.