What are the Laws Regarding Work Zones in California?
With over 170,000 miles of public roads in California, it’s no question that road construction and renovation crews are busy all year round – especially on the I-10 and I-5. And while the constant renovations provide us with continually improved roads, there is the perpetual downside of dealing with “work zones” that give us limited pathways through wider roadways. It is essential to know the laws regarding these work zones, both for you and the construction company – as an accident in these zones can be catastrophic.
Laws for Drivers in Work Zones
When passing through a work zone, drivers are legally required to follow any temporary speed limits and road restrictions. In California, violations can cause a fine that’s double the typical amount, as long as:
- Construction workers are actively present at the scene; and
- Signs are present indicating road work is in progress.
If the two conditions are not met, you can be fined with only the standard fines for speeding, reckless driving, etc.
Laws for Construction Companies in Work Zones
There are hundreds of safety regulations in place that construction companies and government agencies must follow when they create a work zone and repair or renovate LA County streets. Some examples include:
- Posting adequate signage before and at work zones to allow drivers to safely slow down and prepare for limited pathways;
- Creating temporary pathways that don’t include sharp and unsafe turns;
- Providing reasonable detours that are not sudden and dangerous;
- Maintaining safe temporary road conditions and posting signage for any temporary issues like uneven pavement;
- Keeping the temporary pathways free of construction debris; and
- Keeping workers and equipment out of the path of drivers, unless accompanied by safety personnel and adequate signage to prepare drivers to slow down and stop safely.
When these safety regulations are violated, the construction company or government agency can be held legally accountable for any collisions and injuries that occur as a result.
Common Work Zone Accidents
Vehicle accidents in work zones can be catastrophic, especially with the concrete medians, equipment, personnel, and possible construction debris on the road. In a recent year, there were 94,000 work zone crashes throughout the U.S. that resulted in over 37,000 injuries.
Common accidents in work zones include:
- Rear-end collisions that can cause whiplash and other traumatic injuries;
- Collisions with road work equipment and personnel;
- Collisions with medians and other barriers; and
- Rollover collisions.
Statistically, drivers and passengers account for 85% of those who die in work zone collisions, so staying alert and practicing defensive driving is crucial in work zones.
How to Prevent Work Zone Accidents
Some of our top tips for staying safe and preventing accidents in work zones are:
- Stay alert and don’t get involved in any conversation or other distraction;
- Pay very close attention to signage and other safety indicators;
- Don’t wait until the last minute to merge lanes;
- Maintain the speed limit – speeding in work zones is especially dangerous;
- Provide adequate stopping distance between you and the car in front of you, especially if there is an upcoming merge; and
- Be patient and try not to get frustrated with slow driving.
If an accident does occur in a work zone, especially when it results in a severe injury or death, call a Los Angeles auto accident attorney at (818) 507-4311 as soon as possible to get help. Our attorneys at Aghabegian & Associates, PC, can review the site of the collision and verify that the work zone complied with all safety regulations. Such accidents are traumatic, and we are devoted to protecting the rights of victims and helping them recover the compensation they need to put their lives back together.
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