The next time you feel inconvenienced by road construction, try to put yourself in a road construction worker’s steel-toed boots. Angry sneers and obscene gestures from harried drivers are the least of the challenges that road construction workers face daily. The construction season, in many parts of the nation, is short, the work days are long, the weather is often uncooperative, and the deadlines are always looming overhead. Terry, a road construction worker from Michigan, is ready for any kind of weather during the construction season.
“Work days are really long. From dawn until dusk, we work in all kinds of weather. It’s rare that I’ve ever been completely comfortable when working…one time we even had snow at the beginning of the construction season. I’m usually always too hot or a little too cold, but it’s good work and it needs to get done.”
A Lucky Man
The largest and most dangerous challenge for road construction workers is staying out of harm’s way, while vehicles pass by a construction site. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 130 worker fatalities at road construction sites in 2012. Transportation incidents accounted for 76 percent of work zone fatalities with 67 percent of the incidents involving a vehicle striking and killing a pedestrian worker. Workers are trained to look out for dangerous drivers but are not always able to react quickly. Jeff, a former highway construction worker, was severely injured when a driver struck him in 2010. The 42-year-old husband and father of two is no longer able to work and receives disability payments for the injuries he sustained. He forgave the driver, who struck him, a long time ago, but he regrets not being able to work anymore.
“I consider myself a lucky man. I lived through the accident, others haven’t been that lucky. My kids still have a father and my wife has been the most supportive person I know. I just wish it wouldn’t have happened to me. I loved my job. I liked the sun, the exercise, the fresh air…I felt like I had self-worth.”
The driver who hit him that late August day was a young woman, talking on her cell phone. She told authorities, at the scene of the accident, that the sunset was glaring into her eyes and she was unable to see Jeff walking on the shoulder of the road. The young woman was given a fine and had her license suspended. Jeff hopes that the young driver will learn from her mistakes.
“The sun was interference that day, but she should have paid attention to the road, not her cellphone conversation. I think her punishment is fair, she’ll have to live with the “what if” scenario for the rest of her life. I’d say she got pretty lucky, too. I’ve seen drivers wreck their cars and get hurt after running into road construction equipment and barricades. It could have been worse for her.”
Road Construction Fatality
While thousands of road construction workers have “near misses” with passing cars, every year, some workers are never as lucky. In 2007, Maryland Highway worker, Rick Moser was picking up debris on a highway ramp. Moser was struck by a driver, who crashed into the work zone, and killed him instantly. Maryland road construction workers, as well as workers in other states, are no strangers to road construction accidents involving a careless, inattentive driver. The Maryland State Highway Administration reports that in the last 15 months, five highway workers have been killed in work zone crashes and over the past five years, more than 8,350 crashes have occurred in construction zones, including 4,060 injuries and 28 deaths. Moser’s wife, Laurie, has taken a stand against negligent drivers and has lobbied to have stricter laws enforced in work zones. The driver, who struck and killed Moser, faced a small fine and no jail time. Laurie’s persistence to seek justice and to protect other road construction workers has paid off. Since the time of her husband’s death, drivers who are now found at fault in fatal work zone crashes can be charged with manslaughter by negligence; an offense that carries a hefty fine and jail time. While Laurie’s life is forever changed, she can’t help but feel empathy for an at-fault driver.
“Lives truly are changed forever when these crashes happen…but I can’t imagine what it’s like to be the person who causes the death of another person.”
If you have been injured due to the negligence of another, please contact Herrman and Herrman to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. Call 361-792-3669 to schedule your free consultation today!