Central Florida is bursting with new roadway construction as we see more people call Florida home. From the I-4 Ultimate Project to roadwork on State Road 429, Central Florida residents do not have to travel far to encounter roadway construction. According to FDOT, there were 356 fatalities in Florida work zones between 2017 and 2021, with nearly 2,000 more suffering from serious injuries. How do you handle driving safely in a work zone and preventing accidents? Here is what you need to know about car accidents in construction zones in Florida.
What is a Work Zone?
Florida Statute 316.003(109) defines a work zone as any state or county highway or municipal street where repairs, road maintenance, construction, or any other road-related work are performed that closes at least one traffic lane. A work zone includes the immediate area of construction and the area approaching this zone.
Traffic Rules for Drivers in Work Zones
There are specific rules drivers and construction companies must follow when working or driving in a work zone. Drivers are responsible for maintaining the operation of their vehicles, driving without distractions, and adhering to all posted signage regarding speed limits, lane merges, and closed roads. Drivers are strongly encouraged to be alert throughout work zones to prevent accidents and injuries.
Regulations for Construction Companies for Work Zones
Construction companies also have many rules they need to follow to set up a safe work environment for their employees and drivers on the roadway. This includes posting signage about reduced speed limits around the construction area. The amount the speed limit can be reduced to in a work zone depends on the type of road and the regular posted speed limit. Construction companies should generally try to keep the speed limit as close to the standard limit as possible while maintaining a safe work environment.
There are specific regulations regarding where signs are placed and which ones should be utilized. For example, FDOT regulations require signs alerting drivers of upcoming construction areas to be between 200 to 1,000 feet apart, depending on the speed limit of the road. There are also specific materials that construction companies must use for signs to ensure drivers can properly see posted signage. There must also be signs designating the beginning and the end of road work.
There are many other rules construction companies need to follow when setting up a work zone, such as lane widths, dealing with oversized vehicles, and handling lane closures.
Penalties for Work Zone Violations
Fines for speeding violations are doubled when committed in a construction zone with active construction workers on site. FDOT requires construction companies to post signage stating that fines for speeding are doubled when workers are present. Speeding fines are based on how much you exceeded the posted limit. Fines in construction zones can range from $50 to $500.
What Causes Car Crashes in Work Zones?
According to FDOT, speeding and distracted driving are the two most common reasons for accidents in work zones. Speeding is involved in over 25% of fatal car crashes in construction zones. Another common cause of car accidents in construction zones is following too closely, causing rear-end collisions. Areas where speeds are rapidly reduced, narrow roadways, frequent stops, and merging traffic create hazardous conditions that may cause more rear-end collisions. Construction negligence may also be to blame for some crashes, such as missing or confusing traffic signs or debris that caused unsafe driving conditions.
Who is at Fault for an Accident in a Construction Zone?
Determining liability in a work zone accident is complicated. Drivers are often found at fault, but construction companies may also be partially to blame if they do not follow proper procedures to alert drivers of changing traffic patterns, reduced speed limits, or closed lanes.
If you have been injured in an accident in a construction zone, contact an experienced Orange County accident attorney, like Mark P. Cressman, to determine whether you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries. Accidents can happen anytime, so our team is available 24/7 to discuss your case. Call us at 407 871-3372 today.