Pedestrian Safety, or Lack Thereof, in Construction Zones

April 22nd, 2016 by Attorney Julie Butcher

Walking from one place to another can be hazardous enough, but if you’re trying to walk from Point A to Point B and there’s a construction zone in between, the danger increases tremendously. Without proper planning and precautions by the contractor, you may trip, slip and fall if the walkway isn’t safe, or you may be struck by construction trucks and heavy equipment going to and from the site.  You may even be forced into the roadway where you have to deal with vehicular traffic.

There are many construction projects in the area that could impact pedestrian safety at some point in time, according to the Lexington Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. If you find your travels are impacted by a construction project, be extra careful — traffic and construction workers may be focused on things other than pedestrian safety. From 2002 to 2006, about 15% of fatalities caused in work zones were non-motorists (such as workers, pedestrians and cyclists), according to the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA).

The ATSSA advocates for pedestrian safety by stating:

  • Pedestrian safety should be an integral, high priority part of every project.
  • Pedestrian travel should be inhibited as little as possible.
  • Work zones should be planned to reduce the exposure of pedestrians to hazards as much as possible.
  • Pedestrians should be guided to, through and from work zones in a clear manner.
  • Traffic control devices should be regularly inspected.

Of the many safety considerations contractors need to take into account, ATSSA lists these:

  • Pedestrians shouldn’t be put into conflict with work site vehicles, equipment or operations.
  • Conflicts with traffic going through or around the site should be avoided.
  • Pedestrians should have a reasonably safe, convenient and accessible route that copies, as much as practical, the pre-existing sidewalk or footpath.

ATSSA suggests that contractors plan ahead and identify pedestrians’ needs in the area, take into consideration possible pedestrian conflicts, determine how a project will impact normal pedestrian travel in the area and get input from the public before commencement of the project.

Contractors should take steps to protect pedestrians, such as:

  • Using devices to channel pedestrians through temporary routes
  • Minimizing any additional length or time of travel, to the extent possible
  • Clearly defining detour routes
  • Placing signs at intersections
  • Providing accommodations for disabled pedestrians (especially those with difficulties with mobility and sight)
  • Protecting pedestrians from the many hazards they may face.

How well a particular work site lives up to these ideals will vary. What may seem like a good plan on paper may not turn out so well at the actual site, especially at night and where the lighting is poor, or when rain or snow makes walkways slick. If you need to walk around or through a construction zone, you need to focus on where you’re going and what’s going on around you and try to stay safe.

If you or a family member have been injured as a pedestrian in a construction zone due to a slip and fall, a collision with construction equipment or a vehicle, the Julie Butcher Law Office has extensive experience handling the claims of those injured in these cases. Call us at 859-233-3641 or fill out our contact form so we can talk about the circumstances of your case and how we can help your family obtain justice.