Working on the side of a major highway is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. It is for this reason we see all of the reflective orange signs warning us to drive carefully as we are about to enter an active work zone. It is also the reason all workers are required to wear reflective orange and yellow clothing and be careful to stay clear of any approaching traffic. However, there is no question that no matter what precautions drivers and workers take to prevent injury, there will still be many serious accidents each years, and some accidents will be fatal.
In order to help reduce the number of accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other governmental organizations, not-for-profit organizations, and insurance companies are regularly conducting studies to determine how to make the job safer. Obviously, insurance companies are primarily interested in worker safety, as it will reduce the total number of claims each year, and this will make their respective companies more profitable.
According to a recent news article from Journal and Courier Online, traffic engineers now believe motor vehicle accidents in work zones are no more likely at night than they are in the daytime. As our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys understand, this is very much contrary to conventional wisdom that it is more dangerous for workers to be out on the side of a highway at night, when visibility is much lower, and it seems like it would be more difficult to see workers. This is the reason for the reflective clothing and signs, and reduced speed limits at night.
The reason has to do with the type of accident that most frequently occurs in a work zone. While cars hit many workers each year, it is not generally the case that a car simply sideswipes a worker without any other vehicles being involved. What typically happens is that a driver will become aware of a worker in close proximity to his or her vehicle and will take evasive action to prevent hitting the worker. At this point another vehicle, which is possibly traveling too close to the first vehicle, cannot stop in time, and this results in a rear-end collision. Once this occurs, one or both of the colliding cars will end up striking the roadside worker, resulting in serious injury or death.
Even through there is much lower visibility at night, and it is more likely a driver will not see a highway construction worker as soon as he or she would see that same worker in daytime, there is much less of a chance of a rear-end collision that could result in a roadside worker being injured or killed because of reduced traffic at night.
As a result of this and other studies yielding similar results, and a general increase in the number of cars on the road each year, it is likely that more and more roadside construction projects will take place at night in an effort to reduce the number of workers injured on the job.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a Boston work accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
Night no greater peril than day for road construction accidents, July 24, 2015, JC Online
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Increased Fines for Employers Who Do Not Maintain Workers’ Compensation Coverage, July 22, 2014