In the Zone: Preventing Road Construction Accidents

Edited by Admin
In the Zone: Preventing Road Construction Accidents

Road Construction Accidents


As the joke goes, Canada has two seasons: winter, and road construction. But road construction accidents are no laughing matter. Now that spring has finally arrived in Canada, it’s good to remember that there will be an increase in the number of workers on our streets and highways, and to be aware of construction zone safety.


Prior to the 1998 death of Dick van Rooyen, an Ontario construction supervisor, regulations for the training of road workers were less strict. Many of the workers were students with summer jobs who received very little training before going out to work. Today, more rigorous rules are in place for workers, but the very fact that they are out working on roads used by vehicles leaves them vulnerable to harm. In 2015 alone, four Ontario road construction workers were killed, and twelve others were injured. A provincial Ministry of Labour spokesperson admits that roadwork is considered to be “high risk” due to the large number of accidents that occur.


However, drivers and their passengers are also at a high risk for death or injury in a construction zone. In 2017, Ontario was the only province with an increase in the incidence of motor vehicle accidents overall: up 4.7%, with a whopping 8.5% increase in the City of Toronto. Construction zones are a common site for collisions, so it’s in everyone’s interest to work together to decrease these types of accidents.


Construction Zone Safety for Workers


Road workers can help to prevent accidents by:


  • Proper control of traffic. There should be obvious and clear signage alerting drivers to changes ahead, signs indicating a transition area (as well as devices that control the flow of traffic,) a buffer area, and a clearly delineated work area. There should be another transition area past the work zone for transitioning back to regular traffic, and a sign indicating the end of the construction zone.
  • Know the work area. Every construction zone is unique. It’s crucial to take into account the particular circumstances of the job that you’re working, and to work to mitigate any dangers. Good supervisors start each day with a safety meeting to discuss any possible problems and remind workers of the site’s safety plan.
  • Organize the work zone safely. Several activities happen simultaneously at any road construction worksite. It’s important to separate the various areas of the work zone by using physical barriers. For example, you might use cones to divide the material storage area from the vehicle parking area, or barriers to separate the areas where it’s safe for workers to walk from areas where heavy equipment is being operated.
  • Wear safety equipment. The Ministry sets standards for safety equipment for workers. Make sure that everyone on your job is adhering to these standards, which may include wearing reflective safety vests, hardhats, steel-toed boots, or hearing protection. Workers should also take steps to protect themselves from the sun and heat with sunscreen, sunglasses, and frequent drinks of water or sports drinks. 


Driving Safely Through Construction Zones


While workers try to make their construction zones safe, they depend on drivers obeying the rules in these areas. Here are some ways for drivers to stay safe:


  • Plan your route. If you know that there will be construction on your route, leave early so that you won’t be under pressure to speed. If you are experiencing a delay, remember to stay calm. If possible, research possible alternate routes before leaving.
  • Use good driving behaviour. Many accidents in construction zones occur due to bad driver behaviour. A recent survey by the Ontario Road Builders Association indicated that workers observed three major types of dangerous driving through construction zones: speeding, weaving, and road rage. These are terrible driver habits even in the best road conditions; in construction zones they can be particularly deadly. Slow down!
  • Avoid distraction. In today’s world, it’s very easy to get distracted while driving. You might be tempted to answer a text, input information into your GPS navigator, adjust the heat, seat, mirrors, or audio, give a soother to your baby in the backseat, eat, or drink. Even conversation can sometimes be unduly distracting. Make sure you make any adjustments to the vehicle before pulling out into traffic, and try to limit distractions as much as you can.
  • Keep a safe distance between vehicles. Don’t follow the car in front of you too closely. If the driver ahead needs to brake suddenly for workers, you may rear-end his/her car.
  • Merging. Often traffic narrows to one lane when you are approaching a construction zone, and widens again after you get past the roadwork. Be sure to allow enough time to merge, and use patience with other drivers who haven’t merged early.


If you have been involved in a construction zone accident, be sure to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. A personal injury law firm will provide you with a free consultation, and can advise you on the options available to you. Toronto personal injury lawyers can help you through the insurance claim process, or any legal action that may be warranted.