Construction on roads and highways can be incredibly frustrating to deal with as a driver, but the work being done is a necessary hindrance. Unfortunately, when drivers get frustrated and disobey work zone safety rules, it can put both drivers and the construction workers at risk. These areas are often dangerous with heavy machinery and equipment as well as unstable surfaces and large holes and openings in the road.
It is crucial for both workers and drivers to obey work zone laws to keep everyone safe. In 2019, there were 762 fatal crashes across the U.S. in work zones, and more recently, there have been increases in work zone crashes, specifically in Indiana. If you are injured in a work zone car accident in Indiana, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you prove fault and get the compensation you need.
How Do Work Zone Accidents Occur?
Work zone accidents are those that occur within a designated construction zone. These can happen both on commercial, public, and residential roadways, as well as on interstate highways. Generally, these areas have reduced speed limits and may require drivers to merge into a single lane of one-way traffic while other drivers are instructed to stop and wait until it is their turn. Ignoring signs, speed limits, and traffic controllers or flagmen in these areas can have serious consequences.
The most common reasons for work zone accidents include:
- Disobeying work zone speed limits
- Disobeying construction signs and flagmen
- Failing to yield the right-of-way
- Driving recklessly through the work zone
- Distractions or inattentiveness
- Work zone objects or debris in the roadway
Work Zone Crashes in Indiana
Work zone crashes surged recently in 2020, with 3,878 accidents reported across the state, which was nearly 1,000 more than the previous year. From the accidents that occurred, 26 people lost their lives. Though there is no exact evidence to show why there has been an increase in work zone accidents recently, INDOT’s public relations director speculates that it may be due in part to more speeding and distracted drivers.
Unfortunately, construction projects and travel will only continue to ramp back up as things open back up after COVID-related shutdowns. Drivers should be mindful of work zone speed limits and signage and avoid distractions as much as possible to get work zone accident numbers back down. Driving through a work zone while distracted or even working in a construction zone while distracted can have disastrous results.
Indiana Work Zone Laws and Penalties
The fines and penalties for work zone violations are often more severe than penalties for violations in other situations. According to Indiana Code 9-21-8-56, the laws and penalties for work zone violations are as follows:
- A person who recklessly operates a vehicle in the vicinity of a work zone when workers are present is committing a Class A misdemeanor.
- A person who recklessly fails to obey a traffic control device or flagman in the vicinity of a work zone when workers are present is committing a Class A misdemeanor.
- A person who commits the following acts in the vicinity of a work zone when workers are present commits a Class B misdemeanor:
- Unsafe operation of a vehicle
- Overtaking another vehicle
- Unsafe stopping or slowing
- Unnecessary sounding of the horn
- Failure to yield
*A Class A Misdemeanor can result in up to one year in prison and up to a $5,000 fine, and a Class B misdemeanor can result in up to 180 days in prison and up to a $1,000 fine.
When a person speeds in a work zone as a first-time offense, they can face a $300 fine. The second offense can result in a fine of up to $500 and up to $1,000 for a third-time offense within three years. If an individual kills a construction worker or drives drunk in a work zone, they can face up to eight years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.
Consult an Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured in a work zone-related accident, the experienced team at Crossen Law Firm can help. Work zone accidents can be devastating whether you are an injured driver or worker. You may find yourself facing expensive medical bills and loss of wages in addition to any pain and suffering the accident has caused. With over 20 years of experience, our legal experts can advocate for your rights and handle your case to ensure you and your loved ones get the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today or give us a call for a free consultation at (317) 401-8626.