Author: P. Christopher Guedri, Partner – Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen
As a personal injury attorney, I know firsthand how devastating a work zone accident can be. I have seen highway accidents that have had life-altering consequences. Safe driving habits in highway work zones protect VDOT workers, professional drivers and everyone on the roadways. My experience working with accident victims and seeing the evidence collected from crash scenes compels me to promote National Work Zone Awareness Week in an effort to reduce the horrific aftermath of highway work zone accidents.
National Work Zone Awareness Week takes place March 23-27, 2015. The theme of the event is: “Expect the Unexpected.” Work Zone Awareness Week began as a small event held by a single Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) district, and now involves almost every state in the union.
Work zone accidents often happen in the blink of an eye when drivers do not have their full attention on the road. Watch here as a VDOT employee narrowly misses getting hit by an SUV. Not all work zone accidents are near misses. Watch here as Trooper Troy Smith describes his very own encounter with a work zone collision.
What can you do to help? Please follow these simple rules when driving in a work zone:
1. Minimize Distractions. Avoid activities when driving such as using cell phones, changing radio stations, eating or engaging in any activity that takes your eyes off the roadway.
2. Pay Close Attention. Signs, work zone flaggers, and orange cones are there to protect your life and the lives of the workers.
3. Turn on Your Headlights. Workers and other motorists must see you.
4. Don’t Tailgate. Unexpected stops frequently occur in work zones.
5. Don’t Speed. Note the speed limits in and around the work zone.
6. Keep up with traffic flow. Dedicate your full attention to the road and those traveling around you.
7. Don’t Change Lanes. The time saved just isn’t worth it.
8. Expect the Unexpected. Keep an eye out for workers, their equipment, and other drivers.
9. Be Patient. Remember, the work zone crewmembers are working to improve your future travels.
There are also legal consequences for ignoring a posted Work Zone. The top five offenses charged to motorists in Virginia in work zones are:
1. Reckless driving
2. Following too closely
3. Failure to yield right of way
4. Improper lane change
5. Failure to maintain control
The good news is National Work Zone Awareness Week is doing its job! The number of work zone fatalities has decreased in the United States every year since 2002. In fact, between 2002 and 2008, there was a 39% decrease in work zone fatalities.
Be aware of work zones when you are out on the road. Expect the unexpected in a work zone environment, be watchful and patient, and drive safe. It can save lives! More information can be found on the VDOT Work Zone Safety Awareness Page.
About the Author: Chris Guedri (Linkedin) is a Partner and trial attorney with the personal injury law firm of Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen in Richmond, VA. His ability to master complex technical, scientific and medical facts has made him a formidable adversary against insurance companies on behalf of his clients. His victories include substantial courtroom verdicts and settlements in cases involving traumatic brain injury, tractor trailer accidents, product defects, wrongful death, and catastrophic injuries. Guedri was named “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers in America for 2014-2015 in the Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs category in Richmond, VA. He is a Fellow for the prestigious International Academy of Trial Lawyers and has an AV rating from Martindale Hubble. Additionally, Chris Guedri has been listed in the “Legal Elite” by Virginia Business Magazine and as a “Virginia Super Lawyer” by Richmond Magazine.