As you may have noticed, there is a large amount of road construction taking place in New Orleans recently. Although roadway maintenance and improvements are necessary and in many cases a welcomed change, it can be quite frustrating. The increased congestion, traffic, and obstructed sightlines are often dangerous, especially when drivers are suddenly faced with unfamiliar territory. Furthermore, pedestrian walkways are frequently affected and they are sometimes forced to walk among the dust and automobile traffic, increasing the likelihood of pedestrian accident injuries.
WHAT FACTORS LEAD TO CONSTRUCTION ZONE PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENT INJURIES?
Employees being struck by vehicles or mobile equipment lead to many work zone pedestrian accident injuries or fatalities. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that there were 87,606 pedestrian accident injuries in work zones. This is 1.6% of the total number of roadway auto accidents. Based on a report given by Tracy Scriba entitled, “What We Know About Work Zone Fatalities (and What We Don’t),” there were 720 fatal work zone pedestrian accident injuries in 2008. Of these 720 work zone fatalities, the following were factors:
Lack of seatbelt use (388 or 53%)
Speeding (225 or 31%)
Alcohol (146 or 20%)
Time of day: 60% (6 am-9 pm) and 40% (9 pm-6 am)
Day of week: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday most often
Time of year: summer and fall (June, Sept., and Oct. most often)
Additionally, 22% of fatal pedestrian accident injuries occurred on urban interstates and 59% occurred on roads with speed limits of 55mph or more.
HOW DO CONSTRUCTION ZONES PROTECT WORKERS FROM PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENT INJURIES?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires traffic controls identified by signs, cones, barrels, and barriers in work zones. Drivers, employees on foot and pedestrians must be able to see and understand the proper routes, to avoid pedestrian accident injuries. Construction project managers determine traffic control plans within construction/demolition work sites. Traffic control devices, signals, and message boards instruct drivers to follow paths away from where work is being done. Approved traffic control devices, including cones, barrels, barricades, and delineator posts are also used inside work zones.
Clearly, it is important for all involved – pedestrians, work zone employees, and drivers – to maintain a diligent focus on safety in work zones. If everyone can heed the regulations and recommended best practices, the above statistics will be reduced in the future.