Las Vegas is a busy, congested area, and there is much room for growth outside the city. Because of this, in combination with favorable weather year-round, there is usually some kind of road construction going on in the area. Established roads need regular maintenance and highways are frequently expanded and improved. While most people consider road construction to be an inconvenience as they encounter it while driving, construction also poses serious hazards to motorists and crew workers alike.
The dangers of road construction include the presence of construction vehicles and equipment, unexpected lane changes, debris in the road and rapidly slowing or stopping traffic. Traffic is often made more congested by lane closures. Drivers may be impatient or inattentive, resulting in work zone accidents. Passenger traffic often shares the road with large trucks on freeways, which may be particularly dangerous in a work zone. The Elko Daily Free Press reported on an accident that occurred last July, during construction on U.S. 93. Reportedly, traffic was stopped in the work zone and a semi-truck struck three vehicles. Five people were injured and one woman was killed.
According to the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, more than 20,000 workers are injured during road construction every year. The types of accidents causing the most fatalities to construction personnel include collisions, being run or backed over, and being caught between objects or construction equipment. Many road construction jobs go on at night, which can reduce visibility for drivers and cause a worker or construction vehicle to be struck. Increased speed limits on highways may also be an issue, as drivers often do not like to slow down in a work zone and may drive through it at the usual speed.
Accidents in work zones may be avoided if drivers follow construction directions, reduce their speed and remain aware of their surroundings.