As Spring approaches, we can look forward to warmer weather and getting back onto two wheels. But there is another season that is gearing up that we are all too familiar with, construction season. That means lane closures, detours, dirt and gravel on the roads and most importantly reduced visibility.
We had the opportunity to represent a rider who was seriously injured in a construction zone. His case is a vivid reminder of the pitfalls that we encounter in construction zones. Our client was doing everything legally right; he was traveling the speed limit, he had a helmet and riding gear on and he was in his lane of travel with the right of way. The lanes had been reconfigured, closing off all right lanes. As he was traveling in his designated lane, a construction pickup truck with a trailer pulled out from between construction barrels directly into his path. There was nothing he could do.
Our client sustained many broken bones and needed surgery. The construction vehicle was completely at fault and they were heavily distracted. Traffic was steady, visibility was reduced with dust, construction barrels and signs and the driver of the pickup was unable to pick out the motorcycle amidst all the other distractions. We were able to obtain a large settlement of $660,000.00.
This risk in construction zones of drivers becoming distracted with all of the visual obstructions that are present, is all too real. We as riders must be hyper aware of our surroundings in construction zones at all times, because an accident is something we never want to have.
Always assume that the work vehicles on site do not see you. If a vehicle is looking to make a maneuver that will cross your lane of travel, slow down and make eye contact with the other driver and be sure they see you. Make sure your high beams are on during the day to make yourself more visible.
Also, make sure you are aware of other common hazards in construction zones. There can be dirt, oil and gravel on the road that can reduce your motorcycle’s traction and cause it to slide out.
Construction lanes can be reconfigured reducing reaction time, especially with traffic that is slowing ahead. Make sure to reduce your speed to whatever you need to be safe and keep a large following distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you, so that you can stop if necessary without it being a sudden stop, which could cause a car behind you to rear end you. Remember, because of all the visual distractions in a construction zone, the drivers behind you are likely more distracted and will have slower reaction times.
This article was written by Gruber Law Offices’ attorneys Phil Georges and John Hansen. Attorney Georges and Attorney Hansen are avid motorcyclists and have represented injured motorcyclists from all over Wisconsin.