Georgia has 151 approved highway construction projects in the pipeline, all thanks to more than $400 million in federal stimulus funds. That means that in the next few years, there will be dozens of active highway construction, preservation and repair projects across the state. That is good news for Georgians who will expect improved infrastructure to enhance connectivity, boost local economies and create jobs. It may also however, create conditions that place Georgia motorists at a higher risk of accidents.
A New York Times report shows how failure to enforce uniform and strict laws governing construction work zone safety have killed thousands of Americans and injured many more. In the past five years. 4,700 people have been killed in accidents on highway work zones, and another 200,000 people have been severely injured.
The problem with highway work zone safety is that there is no national set of laws that governs work zone safety. As a result, you have laws that differ widely from state to state. Few states have strict systems in place to enforce work zone safety rules. These rules involve placing appropriate warning signs and barriers, correct and safe placement of unused construction equipment, the proper implementation of rolling road blocks to facilitate slow movement of traffic through a zone, and others.
Most efforts at enforcing highway work zone safety in Georgia tend to focus on speeding motorists. While people driving at high speeds through a work zone do cause several accidents, they are not the only factors in these crashes. Negligent contractors who place project speed and lowered costs at a higher priority, rogue contractors who continue to land new projects even after a record of violations, and the lack of a strict response to such violations until after an accident has occurred – all contribute equally to the thousands of work zone accidents that occur every year.
As Atlanta personal injury lawyers, we would like for increased development to be accompanied by responsible compliance with work zone safety rules, and stricter punishment for contractors who fail to comply with these rules.