Tips to Prevent Automobile Accidents in Construction Work Zones

Sending one text while driving at 55 mph is like driving with your eyes closed for the length of a football field.”

According to the CDC, an average of 591 people in the United States die in auto accidents in construction work zones each year. An average of 123 of those accidents were fatal work-related injuries.

What Causes Automobile Accidents in a Construction Work Zone?

Driving is a daily activity for most Americans. However, even though drivers are aware that construction work zones are more hazardous, they often don’t practice construction traffic safety. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, American drivers do all sorts of things other than just drive while in their cars. American drivers sing, talk, and eat while driving. In fact, more than half of the drivers polled reported talking on a hand-held phone while driving.

Another activity that drivers engage in while driving is texting. According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHSTA), sending one text while driving at 55 mph is like driving with your eyes closed for the length of a football field. In many cases, that is the entire length of a construction work zone. And, even if a driver is not texting, it’s easy to lose focus.

In sum, though drivers learn highway work zone safety, many drive while distracted through active construction work zones. Below are some tips to help you practice good construction traffic safety.

Increased Legal Risks of Auto Accidents in Construction Work Zones

When it comes to construction work zones, not only is there an increased risk of serious or fatal injury, but also an increased risk of higher fines and liability for car accidents.

To improve safety, States have passed laws that increase fines for any traffic violation committed in construction work zones. Arizona’s road work safety law states that drivers must pay twice the amount of the usual civil penalty for a traffic violation committed in a work zone while workers are present. Sheriffs in Arizona typically practice a zero-tolerance citation policy in work zones.

Construction work zones also typically have multiple safety signs and other road work safety equipment intended to signal to drivers that they must exercise caution. How and where the signs and equipment are placed can call into question who is liable for a particular accident.

Tips to Prevent Automobile Accidents in Construction Work Zones

    • Slow Down
      On highways, the average speed limit in construction work zones is between 45 and 55 mph. It is important to remember that mathematically, speeding does not save you a lot of time.  For example, if you go 10 over the 55-mph speed limit, you will save less than 3 minutes for a 15-mile trip. It might feel productive while you are speeding but remember: the impact of speeding is minimal.
    • Watch for the Unexpected
      Remember, when you are in a construction work zone, you do not know whether workers are present, where they are, or what kinds of objects they are moving. Although road workers are trained in construction traffic safety, they may still cross the cones or move objects dangerously close to the open lane.
    • Leave Space in Front
      The most common type of accident in a construction work zone in Arizona is a rear-end collision. Leave plenty of space between you and the car ahead of you in case they come to a sudden stop.
    • Do Not Text or Email and Drive
      Texting while driving is widely regarded as the most dangerous activity drivers engage in while driving.
    • Watch for Workers and Obey Their Signaling
      Crews should be trained in road worker safety. They will often direct drivers as they pass through the construction work zone. Be sure to watch for these crew members and obey their signaling.
    • Merge Safely
      Merging can get complicated, especially in heavy traffic caused by unexpected work zones. Be sure to maintain a safe speed and always check your blind spot before merging. Refrain from merging at the last moment, you never know whether the other driver is paying attention.

Practice Defensive Driving to Increase Highway Work Zone Safety

Defensive driving means “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.”


According to the American Society of Safety Professionals’ “Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations,” (ANSI/ASSE Z15.1), defensive driving means “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.”

Defensive driving can help you manage your surroundings and stay safe even when other drivers are not. Many of the tips above apply in defensive driving, however, defensive driving focuses more on avoiding other drivers who may be acting irresponsibly.

Anyone can either take a formal defensive driving course or learn more online.

Have You Been in a Construction Work Zone Car Accident? Contact Goodnow McKay

At Goodnow McKay, we understand that accidents that occur in construction work zones are different. Specifically, we understand that they are not only stressful but also often involve unique complexities depending on many factors. This may include which parties are involved, whether additional laws or regulations apply, and unique insurance questions.

As personal injury specialists, our car accident attorneys here at Goodnow McKay will help you unravel the complexities of your case to ensure that your interests are protected no matter who is involved.

No Hourly Fees

We also operate on a contingency fee basis so that our clients do not have to worry about paying fees out of pocket. Instead, our attorneys can only take a percentage of what we recover.  With contingency fees, we are incentivized to fight for the best possible settlement for our clients. Goodnow McKay lawyers represent clients in various kinds of auto accident claims, including liability/bodily injury claims, uninsured or underinsured claims, and medical payment claims.

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