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7 Tips for Driving Through a Construction Zone in New Orleans

Posted in Car Accidents on December 16, 2020

New Orleans’ road construction zones are sometimes hazardous, but you get used to them. If you’re a daily commuter or you drive anywhere in the city, you learn to navigate the hazards skillfully. You get used to the erratic traffic patterns, the lane confusion, and the extended drive times. They’re an integral part of the city’s landscape, so you don’t think about them until you’re seriously injured in a construction zone crash.

Construction zone accidents are one of the inevitable costs of driving in New Orleans. They often occur under circumstances that are similar to non-construction accidents: A driver hits your car. If he damages your car and injures you, he’s legally responsible. When a crash occurs in a construction zone, it’s usually more complicated than that

A negligent driver remains a key factor in determining fault, but he’s not alone. A contractor, subcontractors, and even the local or state government are sometimes legally responsible as well. Their negligence sometimes arises due to a poorly planned construction site, negligently implemented operations, or a single negligent act.

When you’re involved in a construction zone-related accident, it usually feels totally out of your control. That’s often true, but you can still take steps to avoid what seems like an inevitability. Just as you drive defensively to avoid vehicle crashes, you can take defensive action to minimize the risks of driving in a construction zone.

1. Plan Your Trip

Construction zones can be a problem even when you know about them ahead of time. They’re an even worse intrusion when you’ve timed your trip perfectly and you encounter unexpected construction delays along the way. To avoid this, plan every trip ahead of time.

Before you get behind the wheel, consider your anticipated route and check to make sure it has no construction delays. You can view a list of alerts and updates at the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development website, DOTD.La.GOV. You’ll also find links to help you locate construction projects in your area and verify the status of nearby ferries and bridges.  For regularly updated, interactive maps and data, check out these two options.

  • DOTD Interactive Alerts Map: The Department of Transportation’s interactive map shows current state construction locations. When you click on an icon, you get details about that location.
  • WAZE: This crowd-sourced app provides current information on local and national construction zones. You can find information about traffic issues, gas availability, and additional data. You can also set your app to deliver travel alerts about upcoming trips.

2. Keep Your Distance From Aggressive Drivers

If you can’t avoid construction zones, at least try to avoid bad drivers. Accidents often occur when one driver takes his anger out on everyone else because traffic is slow or stopped. In response to construction delays, some drivers speed, drive on the median, make unexpected lane changes, and commit acts that completely disregard your safety. This type of driving is dangerous under normal circumstances. In a construction area, it sometimes leads to major crashes and serious injuries.

  • Learn to recognize an aggressive driver before he endangers your life.
  • Don’t let an aggressive driver force you to speed up or make erratic moves to accommodate his needs.
  • Maintain a cushion of space between you and everyone else.

3. Avoid the Lane Closest to Construction Operation

If you’re riding on a road with more than one open lane, choose the lane that’s furthest away from the active construction operation. When you’re close to the work area, any mistake can cause a tragic accident. If you slip on wet pavement or another car bumps into you, only a few feet separate you from heavy highway equipment, deep trenches, fragmented pavement, and construction workers. You’re also closer to a variety of objects and circumstances that can cause you to lose control.

4. Don’t Depend Solely on Signs, Flags, and Construction Worker Hand Signals to Keep You Safe

A road construction zone is just like any other construction site. There’s always a lot of activity going on, and most of it can endanger people who are just passing through. Construction zone layouts are confusing because they usually change a little each day. Heavy equipment, dump trucks, utility vehicles, and workers enter and exit the area constantly, often in the path of moving traffic.

The workers are on a schedule, so they don’t wait for you to figure out what to do next. They post a sign, wave a flag, or signal with their hand, and they keep doing what they’re doing. They leave it up to you to figure out what they’re trying to tell you and they expect you to react accordingly.

There’s a problem with this kind of one-sided communication. Sometimes signs are confusing, flaggers take breaks, and hand gestures can be misleading. It’s up to you to pay attention to the signs, but also pay attention to what’s going on around you. Then drive defensively enough to protect yourself from an unexpected event.

5. Be Cautious When Driving Through a Construction Zone At Night

Construction sites are often more dangerous at night even if they’re inactive. The heavy equipment is immobilized. The crew usually suspends its hazardous activities. Traffic is less congested, but lane changes, slow speeds, crumbling pavement, and driving restrictions usually remain in place. They’re even more dangerous because they’re not clearly visible when the sun goes down. Also, if you make a wrong move, there’s no one there to stop you.

6. Consider an Alternate Route

Whether you’re commuting to work or driving to a shop on the other side of town, construction zones are an unwelcome obstacle. You can avoid them completely by finding an alternate route. The above apps and websites give you tools and information to help you avoid construction zones completely.

7. Protect Your Legal Rights If You’re Injured in a Construction Zone Accident

If you’re injured in a construction zone accident, you should discuss your case with a personal injury attorney. If a negligent construction operation caused or contributed to your accident, you may have additional recovery rights.

Construction zone accidents occur more frequently than you might imagine. During 2020, Louisiana’s Crash Data Reports documented 1,278 accidents in state-owned construction zones. These crashes caused 14 fatalities and 522 injuries.  Forty-two of these accidents occurred in Orleans Parish. Fortunately, no one died, but 11 people sustained injuries.

Contact The Law Offices of John Redmann

If you sustained injuries from a crash in a New Orleans construction zone, consult with a personal injury attorney immediately. The Law Offices of John Redmann has recovered millions for our injured clients. Let us see if we can help you.

Call us at 504-500-5000 to schedule a complimentary appointment. You can discuss your accident with a legal professional and find out more about your legal options.