Road construction, maintenance and utility operations disrupt the flow of traffic and produce situations that are annoying and inherently dangerous. Confusion and unnecessary hazards created by highway construction and utility contractors result in a significant number of serious and fatal crashes. Deficiencies include everything from improper signage to unguarded hazards.

I have personally seen hundreds of road construction sites that failed to meet the required safety standards. I have investigated dozens of crashes with serious or fatal injuries where the failure to comply with standards and/or any reasonable engineering practices was the precipitating cause of the accident.

confusing-signsGovernmental agencies spend hundreds of millions of dollars to design and construct upgrades to our highway system, but all too often fail to properly supervise the construction process. Supervision is primarily directed toward the assurance of the quality of the final product with insufficient concern for the safety of motorists and pedestrians traveling through the construction site. The cost/benefit justification for many safety upgrades is seriously compromised by the injuries and fatalities incurred due to unnecessary construction site accidents.

Reducing the proliferation of construction zone accidents can eliminate a significant number of serious and fatal crashes. In my opinion the following improvements in construction activity are essential.

  • Require highway agencies to employ a sufficient number of inspectors who not only are familiar with the standards, but also understand the primary causes of construction zone accidents.
  • Require contractors to hire and utilize individuals trained and certified in all application safety standards.
  • Levy strong penalties for non-compliances.

In many areas the only effective policing of contractors has been through post-accident civil lawsuits. Although this has certainly had a beneficial effect, it is obviously a rather belated and awkward method for improving construction activity.

More information on related topics can be found in Highway Accidents: Investigation, Reconstruction and Causation available at: Information about the book and author is available at: