It is no secret that motorists caught speeding in a road construction zone face double fines as authorities work to reduce the number of serious and fatal Massachusetts construction accidents in roadwork zones.
But the Boston Globe recently reported on a reader’s surprise to learn that the double fines apply even when workers are not present. The motorist questioned whether there is any viable evidence that construction zones increase the risk of an accident.
The Globe reported that such data does not exist, largely because determining accidents per-vehicle-mile-traveled (which you would need to do to get an apples-to-apples comparison) is largely impossible because of the shifting nature of roadwork and the task of trying to determine exactly how many miles are under construction at any given time.
Still, statistics suggest motorists driving in construction zones are at high risk, whether or not workers are present. Nationwide, 720 people, mostly motorists, were killed in work zones in 2008. And one study, sponsored by the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse, found that accidents increased by 88 percent in long-term construction zones around Chicago.
“Many road and bridge construction zones have altered lane configurations, lane shifts, and closures and a number of people working near live traffic,” explained Adam Hurtubise, spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. “These situations can be unfamiliar to drivers, even those who drive those particular roads regularly.”
And that’s the real crux of the matter when it comes to Massachusetts car accidents. Many of these accidents are caused by driver distraction. In other cases, it is just the variance from the driving norm — stopped traffic in the road, flashing lights, shifting lanes, oncoming traffic sharing the road — that increases the risk for an accident.
We’ve all experienced the crawling sensation of slowing down for a work zone (often from 10 over the speed limit to 10 or 20 mph below the normal limit). But the fact of the matter is that driving faster is just not safe. And driving the work-zone speed limit will get you to your destination much faster, and far more economically, than will being pulled over and cited by law enforcement or being involved in an accident.
If you have been injured in a Massachusetts work accident or are hurt in a car accident at a construction zone, contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 877-617-5333.