Summer has arrived to Chicago and with it the season for road construction has arrived, as well. Construction zones can make roads more dangerous and susceptible to accidents, given the reduction of lanes, narrowing of lanes, and diversion of traffic that is often involved. Unfortunately, motorists do not always obey construction zone signs or drive with extra care, and accidents occur as a result. In fact, according to data provided by the Illinois Department of Transportation, in 2011, there were 4,863 reported traffic collisions in Illinois construction zones, resulting in 1,525 injuries and 24 fatalities; in 2012, 19 people died in road work zones.
With road construction in full force in and around Chicago, it is important to keep several safety tips in mind.
- Slow down and follow posted speed limits. Illinois motorists are reminded that work zone speed limits are not suggestions; rather, they are the law and IDOT has a zero-tolerance policy for speed violations in construction zones. In some situations, you may need to drive even slower than the posted speed limit. Moreover, it is important to slow down and follow posted speed limits even if no workers are present since the road conditions themselves make accidents more likely for motorists themselves.
- Pay attention. Road construction zones can change frequently so it is important for motorists to pay close attention and be aware of new lane closures and changing traffic patterns even on the roads that they travel on a regular basis.
- Don’t follow too closely. According to IDOT, rear-end collisions are one of the most common types of road construction accidents. Make sure to allow enough distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you, and to keep a safe distance between your vehicle and traffic barriers, trucks, construction equipment, and workers.
- Don’t pass on the median. Doing so can put construction workers and other motorists in danger, and result in significant fines.
- Avoid cell phone use. Not only is texting and talking on a handheld cell phone while driving is dangerous under any circumstances, it is illegal throughout the state of Illinois. The National Safety Council estimates that 21 percent of all crashes in 2010 involved talking on cell phones – accounting for 1.1 million crashes that year – and that at least three percent of car accidents are estimated to involve texting. Moreover, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to get into injury-causing auto accidents. Because traffic patterns are different and lanes are reduced, even the slightest distractions can result in an auto accident.
- Avoid unnecessary lane changes. Because of increased traffic in road construction zones, lane changes can increase the risk of side collisions.
- Turn on your headlights. IDOT recommends that motorists turn on their headlights, and that truckers turn on their emergency flashers to warn other motorists that the truck is slowing down.
- Be patient. Road construction often results in significant delays due to lane closures. It is important to be patient and allow plenty of time to reach your destination. In fact, you may want to research alternate routes before traveling so that you can avoid road construction zones as much as possible.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
If you were injured in car crash in a construction zone, you may be able to recover compensation from the negligent motorist. Contact the Chicago car accident lawyers at Cogan & Power, P.C. to schedule a free, no obligation consultation with an auto accident lawyer to learn more about a possible car accident claim.