Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer
By Jim Adler June 12, 2015

You probably thought most people who die in work zone crashes are construction workers. If so, you thought wrong. Nearly 90% of victims are drivers like you — people in cars, pickups and SUVs who crash when road construction slows or diverts traffic.

While you can’t make others drive safely, you can drive safely yourself to boost your chances to avoid work zone crashes.

First, it helps to be aware of work zones in advance. The Texas Department of Transportation can keep you posted via a work zone area map. Updated daily, it shows where road work is happening across Texas’ 80,000 miles of roads maintained by TxDOT.

You can zoom in closely to note exact road work spots in your area, then click for details on how such road work can affect your trip, learning which lanes are closed, the affected direction and how long the project should last.

Too, always be alert to highway signs posted ahead of a work zone and warning of construction ahead. Lanes may narrow from three to two — and you may be in the closing lane. So be alert.

Then, when you reach a work zone, heed all barriers and orange cones set up to steer traffic in the right direction — and away from road construction. Also watch for orange triangles, which tend to be the universal sign for a roadwork warning.

Work Zone Deaths Are Getting Worse

Sadly, such warnings haven’t been enough to save 146 Texans who lost their lives in work zone crashes in 2014. Those numbers mean work zone deaths are getting worse. The 146 fatalities were nearly 30% more than the 104 deaths in work zones in 2013, and 87% of them were drivers, not construction crew workers.

The number of work zone crashes also rose in Texas by 12% in 2014, to a total of 19,393.

According to TxDOT, those crashes are largely due to drivers failing to:

  • Slow down
  • Stay alert
  • Obey flaggers
  • Avoid tailgating

John Barton, Deputy Executive Director of TxDOT, notes TxDOT observed National Work Zone Awareness Week in March of 2015 to urge greater work zone awareness and safety. But such urging is also year-round, because dangers are year-round.

Why do work zone crashes happen?

You may be wondering why do work zone crashes happen.

Part of the increase last year was due to an increase in traffic on Texas roadways. Around 400,000 new residents move to Texas yearly, so roadways become even more congested year by year.

But the rise in work zone accidents also can be attributed to an increase in work zones themselves. To meet Texas’ roadway needs, over 2,500 TxDOT work zones are active at some point during the year.

Beyond that, many drivers go too fast to control their speed and don’t pay close enough attention — the two top elements in work zone crashes.

You Could Get a Work Zone Ticket

Even if you don’t crash, you could get a work zone ticket, with fines starting at around $400.

By Texas law, drivers are required to move over or slow down while approaching work crews, tow trucks or emergency vehicles. Drivers who fail to do this not only may cause work zone crashes, but also can receive double the traffic fine they’d have gotten outside of a work zone.

In fact, a single work zone ticket could cost you $2,000, TxDOT says.

Yet despite such fines, many drivers tend to speed through clearly marked work zones at the same rate as when they are free from work zones.

How many? Troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety say less than 50% of drivers slow down when approaching the barriers and orange cones often placed around work zones. Combined with inattentiveness, that helps account for the rise in work zone crashes, where slower, more careful driving is mandated by changing conditions in the road.

Where Do Work Zone Crashes Happen?

You also may be wondering where do work zone crashes happen? The answer may surprise you.

Some of the worst counties for work zone crashes are not among Texas’ most populous counties. In fact, Central Texas’ neighboring McLennan County (Waco) and Bell County (Temple) are among the Top 10 counties for dangerous highway work zones.

Ranking ahead of them are Harris (Houston), Dallas (Dallas), Tarrant (Fort Worth) and Bexar (San Antonio), home to some of Texas’ largest cities.

But McLennan and Bell counties alone had nearly 1,400 work zone crashes and nine work zone accident deaths in 2014. McLennan County had 700 crashes and four deaths, while Bell County had 674 crashes and five deaths involving work zones.

Each county is bisected by the hugely busy Interstate 35, a north-south highway stretching south into Texas from Oklahoma City and extending through Dallas-Fort Worth, Waco, Temple, Austin and San Antonio. That long corridor is the most populous in the widespread state.

Not only that, but Texas road construction along I-35 seems to be continuous.

How To Avoid Work Zone Crashes

Besides slowing down and paying attention, do you know how to avoid work zone crashes?

First, don’t assume you’re safer because you’re driving in daylight hours. According to the Federal Highway Administration, around 70% of roadway work zone fatalities in recent years occurred between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Also, try to be wary of drivers behind you. The FHA reports that over 40% of fatal work zone crashes in a recent year were rear-end crashes, yet these comprise only 16% of all fatal crashes in general. Thus, a fatal rear-end crash is more than twice as likely to happen in a work zone, where vehicles may need to slow down quickly.

Finally, look out for construction equipment and machinery, as well as construction workers. Work zones aren’t all about orange traffic cones and signs. They’re about people and machines doing needed work in dangerous locations.

If someone in your family was injured or killed in a work zone accident which wasn’t their fault, notify our law firm immediately. We’ll provide you with a free legal review of your case, and then we can help steer you toward a possible successful settlement for your losses.

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Testimonials

Erick Becker
Erick Becker
01:20 06 May 17
I am a Patrol Deputy for the Sheriff Office and while working one night, a drunk driver crossed the center stripe on the highway and struck my patrol vehicle head on with his pick up truck. Needless to say we (the drunk driver and I) were both lucky to survive, as the accident occurred at highway speeds. Following my release from the hospital, I knew that I would need to have someone represent me. My employer was happy to represent me in regards to prosecuting the driver for criminal charges but, can do little in respect to the recovery of financial losses for medical bills, pain and discomfort, time lost from work etc... This is how my relationship with Jim Adler and Associates began. Yep, you probably guessed correctly when you think of what made me choose the "Texas Hammer" to represent me. Those half obnoxious, half way entertaining commercials and radio announcements most Texans have been seeing and hearing on the TV and radio for years instantly came to mind. Yes, I wanted to "hammer" this S.O.B. for trying to kill me but, more importantly I was worried about the costs associated with the life long injuries I had sustained as a result of this drunk driver's negligent behavior. I contacted Jim Adler and Associates and so began our relationship. I was immediately surprised by the prompt attention and the expression of genuine concern for my well being that I received from the employees of Jim Adler's office. Now as you can imagine, lawyers are not a breed that is held in very high regard by people in my profession but, my experiences with Jim Adler's office and his employees have forced me to amend my way of thinking, at least on the civil side of the house anyway. I have to chuckle when I say that because my experience as a client of Jim Adler's firm has been exceptionally pleasant. So before I venture down one of the stereotypical and infinite number of rabbit holes associated with the relationship between members of law enforcement and lawyers; I will do my best to stay focused on my experience with Jim Adler & Associates. Upon being informed that my case had been accepted by Jim Adler's office; I was contacted by Iris Sanchez who informed me that she was to be my case manager and any questions, comments and concerns could be directed to her. I was pleasantly surprised to receive regular calls from Iris assisting with my medical appointments and future follow up appointments. Iris had informed me that Jim Adler's son, Bill Adler would be handling my case and I was even more surprised to receive several calls from Bill to discuss my case. Now you might be thinking "what's the big deal" with the person who is representing you contacting you? In reality, you are correct in that it isn't a big deal but, what is noteworthy and what separates Jim Adler's Office from the multitude of other lawyers is the genuine expressions of concern and the desire Bill Adler conveyed to me to do their best to help me. I felt an immediate connection and instantly realized I had made the correct choice in contacting Jim Adler & Associates to handle my case. One thing I think lawyers and police officers can agree on is the proverbial wheels of justice turn very slowly. Months go by and our professional relationship is never neglected. Through the unwavering attention of Iris Sanchez and Bill Adler himself, I never felt "out of the loop" so to speak and always had a clear understanding of where my case was at in regards to the legal process. In conclusion, I know my brief description of my experiences with Bill Adler and, his assistant Iris Sanchez, cannot provide the credit they deserve. Together they have done an outstanding job representing their firm/employer. If you are seeking a great firm to represent your legal interests and, take comfort in establishing a professional relationship that feels more like a friendship than a casual business acquaintance, then I highly suggest Jim Adler & Associates.
Tierra Clark
Tierra Clark
18:52 19 May 17
My lawyer Bill Adler and case manager Iris Sanchez are amazing! They constantly call and check on you . They keep you up to date through the process. They care about you as a person and not just a client. The wreck was a life changing experience that I've never been through before. I'm just glad I had the right people like Bill Adler and Iris Sanchez to help me through it. Truly satisfied.Thanks and God bless y'all!
Lorenzo Preston
Lorenzo Preston
17:23 26 Jan 17
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Tori Barroga
Tori Barroga
14:17 11 May 17
I was dropped from a previous law firm regarding my case before I called Jim Adler. They immediately took up my case and worked hard on it - I was always up to date with each step they took and the benefits or consequences of each. In the end, I am highly satisfied with the outcome and would not have it any other way. It took some time but I truly appreciate and want to thank everybody who helped me on this journey and worked tirelessly on it.
Bernard Orozco
Bernard Orozco
17:16 23 Feb 17
I am very happy with Jim Adler & Associates. I did not know anyone who has ever used the Law Firm before. The staff is very friendly and treated me as if I were family. At times it got very stressful being without a job. They helped me when I was confused about the process. Mrs. Theresa Rodriguez stayed in contact with me constantly. Checking on me to see how I was doing and to let me know how things were going on there end. The Attorneys that handled my case know exactly what they are doing to take good care of me. Thank You so much Attorney's Mr.Michael Gomez and Mr.Trey Smith.
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