The long line of brake lights terminating in the flashing reds and blues of emergency vehicles is a familiar sight during rush hour traffic; a crash surrounded by police cars and ambulances, a tow truck navigating the traffic to begin clearing the damaged vehicles. Sometimes, the blockage is the result of emergency roadwork; either way, traffic slows to a crawl. Movement ebbs and flows; vehicles are stopped for many minutes and then suddenly edge up, only to stop abruptly in another dozen yards.
To forestall the frustration, many of us fiddle with the radio or check messages on our phones, habits that greatly increase the chance of a secondary accident. These secondary accidents don’t just involve vehicles; they often have the unintended consequence of serious injuring or killing the very people who are working to clear wrecks or repair dangerous roads. Oklahoma has a serious problem with distracted drivers killing and injuring workers on the road. In the last five years, 85 people have been killed in work zones alone.
By the numbers
By all accounts, roadwork zones are dangerous places. The past five years have seen 1,322 work zone crashes that injured 1,677 people and killed 85, including four Oklahoma Department of Transportation workers. These accidents happen despite clearly marked work sites, warning signs, flashing lights and other signal devices. Most of these accidents can be attributed to drivers who simply aren’t paying attention. In other words, they are driving distracted, a situation that most people don’t give the weight it deserves.
News OK reported, “Those that text and drive travel the length of a football field in the time it takes them to glance at their phone, on average. For drivers who don’t follow speed reductions inside a highway work zone, 17 seconds is roughly the amount of time speeding will save them. These precious seconds can mean the difference between life and death.”
A growing problem
Like distracted driving on the whole, the number of fatal crashes in work zones is growing across the country; ODOT reports an increase of approximately 5% from 2014 to 2015, a number that will likely grow when the 2016 data is analyzed. While workers are obviously at risk, the ODOT reported another extremely sobering statistic; more than 80 percent of all people killed in work zone crashes are drivers and passengers. It’s time to sit up and pay attention.
While you can change your habits to become a more responsible driver, there is very little you can do about other drivers on the road. You can only be so alert and responsive; some accidents are truly unavoidable. When the unavoidable happens, the unthinkable becomes reality; a loved one is seriously injured or killed. Facing the aftermath of serious injuries or an untimely loss can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. The experienced Oklahoma distracted driving lawyers at Stipe Law can help you get the compensation that your family deserves in their time of need. Call (918) 505-7741 or contact us today for a free consultation.