Many people may not be aware of the dangers construction workers face each day. For those working in work zones near roads and freeways, they face the additional risk of being hit by motorists passing by. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is implementing a number of measures to make work zones safer and prevent Pennsylvania construction accidents.

These efforts are being taken to hopefully decrease the number of work zone collisions in Pennsylvania which reached 1,800 last year, compared to roughly 1,400 in 2008. Sadly, in 2011 there were also 21 fatalities.

The new safety equipment includes portable rubber rumble strips, LED lights that clip on work vests, and power flares to replace those that burn. A new “flagger paddle,” the sign that tells motorists to slow down or stop, will also be equipped with LED strobe lights to draw motorists’ attention.

Police and PennDOT recently demonstrated the equipment in hopes of raising awareness among Pennsylvania drivers of the need to be cautious when driving in work zones.

An executive from PennDOT encourages motorists to drive slowly in work zones, avoid distractions, “and expect the unexpected.” Drivers should be able to react and stop quickly in the event something or someone enters the roadway. Almost 600 Pennsylvania drivers faced license suspensions for work zone violations in 2011.

Construction workers injured on the job may have a number of available legal options. These include a personal injury claim against a negligent party, such as a motorist that caused the accident, or a workers’ compensation claim for medical expenses and lost income.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Portable rumble strips made to protect highway workers,” Jon Schmitz, April, 28 2012.