As you travel down the interstate, whether we’re talking about the ones that surround Jackson, MS, including I-220, I-20, or I-55, or even area highways, routes, and just your average surface streets, you’re bound to encounter your fair share of work zones. These are the ones where you’ll find county, city, or state workers tinkering away, fixing potholes, resurfacing or lining streets, and more. You may be accustomed to seeing roadside signs or public service announcements (PSAs) about worker safety and wonder how big of a problem work zone-related accidents must be—especially ones involving large trucks. Keep reading where we’ll discuss just that.
Statistics Regarding Tractor-Trailer Accidents and Road Construction
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), nearly 30% of all work zone collisions involve large trucks, and the federal agency contends those numbers are only increasing. These accidents have caused 18,000 or more injuries and at least 1,000 fatalities during the last five years.
A report released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in 2021 highlighted how, of the fatal crashes occurring in work zones, at least one-third involved large trucks. This data marks an uptick from the statistics published by the Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) in 2018. That report, which dates back three years prior to the FMCSA one, detailed how big rigs were involved in one-quarter of all big rig crashes occurring in areas where road work was being performed, a rate that equates to one incident every three days.
National Safety Council data from 2021 details how 5.59% of truck-involved fatal crashes occur in work zones, whereas 94.41% do not. This marks a slight improvement from what the CAIT researchers previously found. The CAIT study’s researchers also pointed out a stark difference in the frequency with which fatal truck-involved crashes occur within work zones versus outside of them. Only 9 – 12% of all deadly 18-wheeler crashes outside of road construction areas.
That same CAIT study detailed how tractor-trailer crashes in work zones were even more pronounced in rural areas during the daytime at just over 50%.
Why Are Semi-Truck Crashes Common in Road Construction Zones?
There are many factors that motorists, truckers included, encounter in work zones that put them at risk of having an accident, including:
- Narrower lanes
- Shifts in lane patterns
- Limited shoulders and the existence of cement barriers instead
- Unexpected road closures along with detours
- A lot of heavy machinery and road crews, all of which can be distracting
- Sudden changes in speed limits
- Faint or non-existent lines delineating lanes
The factors above can be bothersome to almost any motorist, but particularly to truckers, who are frequently in a hurry to get to their destination on time to make pickups or deliveries. Slowdowns, which lead passenger car operators cutting in close on them, requiring them to suddenly apply their brakes, changes in routes due to detours, and navigating tight lanes with their wide loads can be challenging, especially when paired with pressure from their employer to press on when they’re already tired and have worked a full day. All these concerns can lead to crashes.
How To Share the Road Safely With 18-Wheelers and Avoid Accidents
Given the frequency of tractor-trailer accidents that reportedly occur around work zones, you probably want to know what you can do as a small car operator to reduce your chances of being struck by a truck. One clear option for doing so is to avoid roadways you know are under construction. However, that’s not always possible.
So, one other crash avoidance tactic you can employ if avoiding the road altogether includes remaining vigilant for advanced warning signs of upcoming construction zones, as depicted by the Mississippi Department of Transportation. This includes keeping a watchful eye for signs announcing changes in speed limits. You should also:
- Change lanes to the appropriate one as early as possible when you see signs warning of changes in traffic patterns or exists.
- Pay close attention to flaggers and heed their instructions.
- Know where truck blind spots lie, including several feet in front and behind the truck as well as on its sides.
- Never try to overpower a truck just to cut in close on it; trucks do not come to complete stops quickly, especially the quicker they’re moving and if they are carrying heavy loads.
There are, of course, many other steps you can take to avoid crashes; however, a key element among them all is exercising an abundance of caution.
It’s also important to note that, should you become involved in a crash with a semi-truck, your use of a seat belt can greatly impact the severity of the injuries that you suffer. For example, unless the safety harness malfunctions, it can prevent you from being ejected from your vehicle if it collides with a big rig.
Getting Help if You Have a Crash with a Truck in a Road Work Zone
Our hope here at Pittman, Roberts & Welsh, PLLC is that you and the truckers you share the road with here in Jackson or elsewhere in our state mind the rules of the road and don’t endanger your safety. However, we are here for you if you suffer injuries in a collision with a semi-truck to advise you of your rights and, if appropriate, recover compensation for your losses.
Reach out to our law firm if you need help. Your initial consultation with one of our Jackson truck accident attorneys is completely free.