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Los Angeles Highway Worker Accident Attorney: Drivers Urged to Slow Down in Work Zones After Increased Accidents

According to a California Highway Patrol report, there have been four incidents this September in highway work zones, all of which were preventable, resulting in injuries to 15 persons.

Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS)  are calling on all Californians for their help in the ongoing effort to make highway work zones safer.

According to published reports, since September 16 four incidents, all of which were preventable, resulted in injuries to 15 people:

·      On Sept. 16, a head-on collision between a passenger vehicle and a Caltrans truck on State Route 20 in Mendocino County sent both drivers and their passengers to the hospital with major injuries. The Caltrans workers had stopped to remove a dead deer from the roadway.

·      On Sept. 16, a contractor on flagging duty near State Route 191 in Butte County was struck by a vehicle and sustained major injuries. Authorities say the driver swerved to avoid another vehicle which had slowed down in front of them.

·      On Sept. 17, a CHP officer on Interstate 80 in Auburn positioned his cruiser into the path of a vehicle approaching a work zone at an estimated 65 mph. His intervention successfully blunted the vehicle’s approach, saving the life of a Caltrans worker who was removing debris from the roadway. The officer was knocked unconscious from the impact.

·      On Sept. 18, a big rig drove into a work zone on State Route 60 in Diamond Bar, injuring the driver, two Caltrans workers, and six members of a crew of court-ordered community service workers who were picking up roadside litter.

“Every day, highway workers put their lives in danger just by going to work,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “These incidents are a sobering reminder that we all must do everything we can to keep our highways safe. Motorists must slow down, watch out for highway workers and safely move over a lane when passing work crews.”

Californians can help keep highways safe by slowing down in work zones and complying with the Move Over law, which took effect in 2007 and was amended in 2009 to add Caltrans vehicles displaying flashing amber warning lights to the list of vehicles for which motorists must move over if safe to do so, or slow down.

Caltrans and the CHP work together in construction zones to monitor driver safety, and enforce the speed limit and the Move Over Law. When feasible, Caltrans allows an extra buffer lane between workers and vehicles in specific construction zones, so that workers previously separated only by orange cones have more space between themselves and oncoming vehicles.

“By moving over and slowing down, motorists can do their part to ensure the public, highway workers, and emergency personnel stay safe,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “The CHP will continue to work with Caltrans to ensure motorists are complying with the Move Over, Slow Down law.”

California has made significant strides in work zone safety since 1999 when Caltrans launched its Slow for the Cone Zone safety campaign. Since the inception of Slow for the Cone Zone, California’s work zone fatality rate has declined 56 percent compared to a drop of 32 percent nationally.

“Every day on every highway throughout the state, highway workers, emergency personnel, tow truck operators, and law enforcement risk their lives to make travel safer and more efficient,” said Chris Cochran, Assistant Director, Marketing and Public Affairs, California Office of Traffic Safety. “We can all help just by following the simple rule when we see flashing lights on the side of the road – Move Over, Slow Down.”

Highway construction and maintenance work is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. Since 1927, 180 Caltrans employees have died while on the job.

Work accident attorneys in Los Angeles 

Roadway workers are placed at constant risk of injury. The job involves heavy machinery and dangerous equipment that can inflict catastrophic and fatal injuries if poorly designed, inadequately maintained or negligently operated. In addition, negligent drivers who speed, drive drunk or use their cell phones can cause serious job hazards. Ill-constructed roads also contribute to the dangers.

Ellis Law focuses exclusively on injury recovery. Our lawyers advocate for workers’ rights to safety. Your employer and the drivers who travel by your work zone can take simple measures to avoid accidents. We hold them accountable if you are injured because of their actions or omissions.

Highway work zone injury statistics

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration reports that more than 20,000 workers are injured in road construction accidents every year. Numerous workers suffer serious or fatal injuries due to being:

  • Run over or backed over by dump trucks or other heavy equipment
  • Involved in collisions between work vehicles
  • Caught in between construction equipment
  • Struck by objects
  • Hit by passing motorists

Lawsuits against negligent drivers

In Los Angeles speeding through a construction zone is a criminal misdemeanor. Drivers may be charged under this statute in addition to other charges, including DUI or reckless driving. However, criminal prosecution does not typically compensate injured victims. Our lawyers can file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent drivers who contributed to your accident.

Employer negligence

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published the report “Building Safer Highway Work Zones: Measures to Prevent Workers Injuries From Vehicles and Equipment” to instruct workers, employers, contractors and government agencies about improving work zone safety. Among their many recommendations, it urges employers to take these basic steps:

  • Lay out work zone in accordance with the “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices” and the project’s traffic control plans Create lateral buffer zone that protects workers from passing motorists
  • Reroute or slow speed of motorists travelling through the work zone
  • Use temporary traffic control devices — such as signs, warning systems and concrete barriers
  • Employ flaggers to direct traffic and implement measures to protect flaggers from passing motorists
  • Require workers to wear high-visibility apparel
  • Illuminate work zone, especially at night or in inclement weather
  • Maintain equipment in good condition and discontinue use of broken equipment until full repairs are made
  • Train heavy equipment operators and ensure they have valid licenses and credentials
  • Appropriately compensate workers for carefully performing equipment safety checks
  • Supply safety tools and training to all workers on the site

Ellis Law will assess if your employer followed regulations and implemented necessary measures to keep you safe from harm. We hold your negligent employer accountable for failure to comply with the law if you were injured at work.

Consult our injury lawyers about los angeles laws protecting highway construction crews

For more information about highway construction liability, call Ellis Law at 1-800 – INJURED or contact our law firm online to schedule an appointment.