Construction Accidents a Top Risk for California Drivers and Workers

Construction and maintenance sites on highways and roadways are dangerous places for both workers and for motorists in their cars. This is especially true in California, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies as one of the states with the highest rates of motorist injuries in road construction sites. 

Drivers have an obligation to ensure they are not taking unnecessary risks or making driving in construction zones any more dangerous than it has to be. An experienced car accident lawyer can provide representation of victims who suffer injuries caused by drivers who break driving safety rules or who are otherwise careless as they travel through construction areas.


Hundreds or thousands of motorists are killed in accidents in road construction and road maintenance areas every year. Between 1994 and 1997, an average of 778 fatalities among motorists happened every year in construction zones. From 2000 to 2006, a booming economy led to more construction and more injuries in construction worksites. The peak death rate for motorists was in 2003 when 1,095 people were killed traveling through road construction sites. The average annual deaths from 2000 to 2006 was 1,060. The death toll declined between 2007 and 2012, with the average death rate for drivers falling to 669 fatalities per year in construction zones.

The three states in the United States with the highest fatality rates for motorists in road construction zones were California, Florida, and Texas. In each of these states, there were more than 50 motorists killed annually in construction areas in 2012.

California may have a high rate of construction zone deaths for many reasons. New development and rapid growth in the state resulted in more construction, and construction can occur year round due to pleasant weather. Construction accidents in the state, however, usually occur because drivers do not know how to move safely through construction areas.

Lanes end suddenly or drivers are forced to merge, and drivers are often forced to detour onto unfamiliar roads where they do not know where to go. All of these factors can make motorists more likely to be in accidents, as can distraction if drivers focus on a map to tell them how to detour around construction or if they pay attention to what the construction workers are doing instead of looking at the road.

Risks to motorists are just some of the dangers in California construction sites. Workers can also suffer injuries in construction zones. A total of 63 percent of people killed in work accidents in construction sites come from a small group of professional positions: highway maintenance workers, road construction workers and construction supervisors; operators of tractor trailers; construction equipment operators and excavators. California had the fifth highest number of deaths among workers in road construction zones, after Texas, Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Nationwide in 2013, 105 workers died in road construction zones.

Drivers need to know the risks to workers and to other motorists and should be sure to slow down and exercise reasonable caution whenever they move through construction areas.


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