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Are Construction Zone Dangers a Problem in Pennsylvania? 

You Bet They Are!

Construction zones are disasters waiting to happen. People who speed through construction zones greatly increase the danger of being involved in a crash. According to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot) statistics, there have been 9,383 crashes, 6,249 injuries, and 101 fatalities reported in work zones in the past five years. While those injured are often workers, drivers and passengers are most likely to be the ones injured or killed in construction zone crashes.

PennDOT is responsible for 40,000 miles of roadway and 25,000 bridges and follows federal standards for setting up traffic control in a work zone. Pennsylvania has its own laws and regulations which must be complied with. Sometimes there are even private standards that apply. Most work zone crashes take place on state highways and interstates. Long-term makeovers, such as the current one at the Interstate 83/Mount Rose Avenue interchange, and numerous Route 80 repairs, are major danger points.  Construction sites are potentially dangerous even on rural roads. During the day, crews work behind concrete barriers to allow traffic to flow, but at night, it’s often only cones that separate the vehicles from the workers. Truckers are some of the worst offenders. Some truck drivers will deliberately cut-off cars in order to race into a one-lane construction zone. Other times, truck drivers will deliberately slow down, acting in concert, to cut-off automobiles from passing the trucks as they enter a one-lane zone. Some behavior by truck drivers is absolutely criminal, literally criminal.

Motorists, construction companies and their workers who follow traffic rules and signs lessen chances of crashes, but those who speed or act unsafely endanger everyone. If their negligence results in serious harm, permanent damage or death, they must be held responsible. Construction companies often do not comply with sign and flagging requirements. Many construction companies are sloppy, negligent, or even deliberately indifferent. They may let or encourage truck drivers to enter highways without proper warning, signs, or other ways of alerting motorists to construction traffic.

If you or a loved one has suffered harm from a work-zone crash, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical and hospital bills, lost wages, future lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of life’s pleasures, disfigurement. Your case must be handled correctly, competently, and by someone who is experienced. You may never collect the compensation you are entitled to if the lawyer is not up to speed on the law. There are also issues of subrogation. Sometimes insurance companies are entitled to their money back that they have paid out for medical care. This could differ if the plan is a federal plan, under ERISA, as opposed to a state plan. This area of the law is extremely complex; do not fool around with it yourself.

Clifford A. Rieders wrote the book Financial Responsibility Law in Pennsylvania. It is the financial responsibility law which has a lot to do with responsibility when there are road collisions. However, there is much about the law beyond the Financial Responsibility Act which concerns rights and responsibilities in construction zones.

Cliff Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Dohrmann, Mowrey, Humphrey & Waters knows the courts and the system and what you need to do to increase your chances of winning a good settlement or verdict. We offer a free consultation to carefully examine the individual facts in your case and determine the best way to handle it. Contact us today by calling (570) 323-8711 or by using our online contact form to set up your free consultation.

Causes of Construction-Zone Crashes

Work-zone crashes may be cause by negligent motorists who are speeding or distracted by a phone, a passenger, eating, or fiddling with controls and equipment while driving, or who do not pay attention to signs. Crashes may also be caused by negligence from construction companies or independent contractors who fail to follow state or federal safety regulations. Trucking companies and truckers themselves are a major cause of crashes. Many truck drivers act as though the roads are their own personal domain and they have very little respect for drivers. Trucking accidents on the highway and in construction zones is a major cause of injury among Pennsylvania drivers. Common causes of collisions include:

  • Lack of advance warning signs; inadequate number or improper placement of barricades
  • Construction vehicles pulling out into traffic
  • Misdirection of traffic through a construction zone
  • Inadequate lighting or traffic buffer space
  • Construction debris, equipment, machinery or supplies in the roadway
  • Defective or improperly repaired roadways, uneven or shifting lanes, steep drop-offs, potholes and ruts
  • Poorly trained work-zone crew
  • Negligent, incompetent behavior of truck drivers, other vehicles, and those who do not respect construction zones.

Pennsylvania Work-Zone Safety (WZS) Laws

WZS laws punish drivers who disobey posted signs in areas with road construction, and they are strictly enforced. The following laws come from PennDOT’s website.

  • Headlights. All motorists are required to travel with their headlights on in all posted work zones, even if not active. Drivers in vehicles with daytime running lights must turn on their headlights to activate taillights.
  • Speed-monitoring devices. Interstate work zones with a project cost exceeding $300,000 will have a speed-monitoring device to alert motorists of their speed prior to entering the work zone.
  • Posting of Active Work Zones– Active work zones must tell drivers when they enter and leave a work zone. A flashing light on the “Active Work Zone When Flashing” sign should be turned on only when workers are present.
  • Fifteen-Day Loss of License for Driving Dangerously. Driving 11 miles per hour or more above the posted speed limit sign or involvement in a car accident in an active work zone while speeding means losing your license for 15 days.
  • Fines Doubled/Jail Time Increased– Fines for certain traffic violations – including speeding more than 5 mph over the posted speed limit, driving under the influence, and not obeying traffic laws – are doubled for active work zones. Conviction for killing someone in a work zone while driving drunk means five additional years of jail time.
  • Causing serious bodily injury in a work zone brings fines up to $5,000 and a six-month license suspension, and if death is involved, up to a $10,000 fine and a one-year license suspension.


The following tips for drivers will help ensure work-zone safety:

  • Observe the posted work-zone speed limit.
  • Stay alert, avoid distractions, and pay close attention to signs and flaggers.
  • Turn on your headlights if signs instruct you to do so.
  • Maintain a safe distance around vehicles.
  • Use four-way flashers when stopped or traveling slowly.
  • Expect the unexpected and be patient.
  • Stay clear of construction vehicles and workers.
  • Stay off cell phones, iPads and available on many modern automobile systems.

What to Do In Case of a Collision

Construction companies, independent contractors and state and federal agencies involved in road construction are all obligated to provide a safe work-zone environment for both workers and motorists. If you or a loved one was involved in a construction zone crash due to someone else’s negligence, you have a right to receive compensation for your injuries, lost wages, medical costs, and other damages. To protect your rights and maximize compensation, it is important to have an experienced lawyer on your side to determine the cause of the accident and identify the responsible parties before you talk to insurance companies, which will try tactics such as trying to shift responsibility or getting you to accept the lowest settlement.

Achieving Results When it Counts

The skilled and experienced Pennsylvania work-zone accident attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Dohrmann, Mowrey, Humphrey & Waters has spent decades honing his skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to someone else’s negligence. We offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, we are thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome. With our sizeable staff, we offer strength in numbers while providing top-notch personal service.

We have years of experience dealing with the harm that results from construction-zone crashes. As a result, we have been successful in securing substantial recoveries for legitimate claims.

Cliff Rieders is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, and a Past President of the Federal Bar Association, Central Pennsylvania region. Rieders has won numerous awards and recognition from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and he received the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recognition award. Cliff has received the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, as well as the Milton D. Rosenberg Award from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers.  He is Board Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy as a Civil Trial Advocate. The attorney has written many textbooks, including on the Financial Responsibility Law which governs truck and automobile accidents in Pennsylvania. The book is available on Rieders is on committees and organizations that write the law in many fields of practice. Cliff Rieders was involved in the writing of the Mcare Act, which governs medical liability actions in Pennsylvania. Cliff Rieders is admitted in state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States.

If you or your loved one has suffered harm from someone else’s negligence or incompetence in a construction-zone crash, your next step should be to consult Cliff Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Dohrmann, Mowrey, Humphrey & Waters by calling (570) 323-8711 or by using our online contact form.

Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.