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Road construction may worsen highway dangers

During the fall, road construction sites across New York are likely to be wrapping up to prepare for winter. For the next few weeks, drivers in Schenectady and elsewhere may encounter construction equipment, cones, lane closures and workers who are attempting to get the job done before cold weather sets in.

While road construction is essential to keep America’s roads and highways safe and efficient, it can also present many dangers to construction workers and people in traffic. Work zones are particularly dangerous when large trucks are involved. Trucks can always be found on highways, and construction projects add even more big vehicles to the area. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 126 fatalities in New York State in 2015 that involved large trucks. Some of these accidents may have occurred at construction sites.

The most common dangers that people can encounter in a work zone include lanes that narrow or close, workers in the road, construction debris and large equipment. Speed limits are usually reduced in a work zone to improve traffic safety. However, drivers may not pay attention to reduced speed limits or may encounter traffic that has unexpectedly slowed or stopped, significantly increasing the chances of a serious accident.

Workers are also put at great risk. The United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration reports that more than 20,000 construction workers are injured every year in work zones, and many others are killed. Collisions with nearby traffic, being struck or backed over by construction vehicles, or getting stuck or caught in between equipment are among the deadliest types of accidents for workers in construction zones.

Drivers may reduce their chances of getting in a work zone crash by following safety rules, reducing their speed and being aware of their surroundings near construction. However, it is not always possible to prevent others from causing an accident, in which case legal action may be necessary.

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