New laws concerning highway work zones: Help keep our workers safe
Road constructions is a fact of life. Roads wear out and need to be repaired. Work Zones tend to be dangerous for both workers and drivers.
From 2011 to 2015, Oregon Averaged 488 work zone related crashes per year. That is a work zone crash every 18 hours, and five fatal crashes per year. On, average 85% of work zone fatalities are drivers or their passengers. Road construction workers are 6 times more likely to be injured or killed on the job compared to other professions. National Studies show that driver inattention is the biggest contributor to work zones crashes. Driving too fast for Conditions or speeding is the second leading cause of crashes in work zones.
ODOT has been working on improving safety in Highway Work Zones. This includes closing roads to reduce worker exposure to traffic. This can make it harder on drivers but much safer for everyone. They work at night to avoid peak traffic hours when it is practical. ODOT has also ran several radio and television campaigns to include: Avoid Distractions – Respect the Zone, See Orange – Zone In, Give’Em A Brake, Respect the Cone Zone – Better Roads Ahead, and Fines Double 24/7 – Workers or Not.
The Oregon Legislators have passed laws to hold drivers accountable for their driving in Work Zones. ORS 811.230 to ORS 811.233 are Highway Work Zone Statues.
ORS 811.230 is the definitions and the fine amounts for the Highway Work Zone Statues.
Reckless Endangerment of Highway Worker
ORS 811.231 is titled Reckless Endangerment of Highway Worker. It states a person commits the offense or reckless endangerment of highway worker if they driver a motor vehicle in a highway work zone is such a manner as to endanger persons or property or if the person removes, evades or intentionally strikes a traffic control device in a highway work zone. The penalty is a Class A misdemeanor.
Refusing To Obey Flagger
ORS 811.232 is titled Refusing to Obey Flagger. It states a person commits the offense of refusing to obey a flagger if the person intentionally and unreasonably disobeys a lawful order by a flagger relating to driving a motor vehicle in a highway work zone. The penalty is a Class A violation.
Failure to yield right of way to highway worker
ORS 811.233 is titled Failure to yield right of way to highway worker. It states a person commits the offense of failure to yield right of way to a highway worker who is a pedestrian if the person is operating a motor vehicle in a highway work zone and does not yield right of way to a highway worker who is a pedestrian. It also exempts highway workers from ORS 814.040 titled Failure to Yield to Vehicle. Which requires pedestrian not to suddenly leave a curb or place of safety or move into the path of a vehicle. So as a driver in a highway work zone you have to be able to stop or avoid a highway work if they step out in front of you. The penalty for ORS 811.233 is a Class B violation.
What you can do to help
There are several things you can do as a driver to keep everyone safe in a Highway Work Zone. Remember if it is marked a work zone, it is a work zone 24/7 whether or not highway workers are actually present. That is because the road may be changed or tore up, or there may be equipment in or alongside the road, or other hazards that drivers need to be careful around.
Pay attention in and around highway work zones. Remember Inattentiveness is the leading cause of work zone crashes. When you see orange signs, barrels, cones, or barricades, slow down! Double your following distance, don’t tailgate. Be Alert, work zones can have narrow lanes, closed lanes, closed shoulders and workers very close to live traffic.
Plan for work zone delays. ODOT tries to give drivers warnings about upcoming construction. They post reader boards along the roadway, the give press releases to TV and radio, and they post information on www.TripCheck.com. If you know there is construction on your route, leave early if you can, be patient, or use an alternate route if practical.