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Be Safe This Summer while Driving through Nashville’s Work Zones

Posted in Car Accident on June 23, 2018

On June 5, 2018, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) announced that it will be work on two different downtown interstate loops over the course of summer 2018 that will both require weekend lane closures and shutdowns.

In late April 2018, a water truck crashed into the Interstate 40 overpass at the I-65/I-40 split, necessitating major repairs. Weekend closures will take place on June 22 beginning at 8 p.m. and lasting until June 25 at 6 a.m., and again on July 13 at 8 p.m. and lasting until July 16 at 6 a.m. The closures will affect the I-65 northbound ramp to I-40 westbound, while I-40 eastbound access will be limited to a single lane during the closures.

Another scheduled project involves the I-40 bridge over 2nd Ave, 4th Ave, and Lafayette St. in downtown Nashville. The project will include complete closures of I-40 from the I-65 split near the Adventure Science Center to the I-24 split near the Silliman Evans Bridge. That closure will take place over three weekends: July 27 at 8 p.m. through July 30 at 6 a.m., August 3 at 8 p.m. through August 6 at 6 a.m., and August 10 at 8 p.m. through August 13 at 6 a.m.

At Matt Hardin Law, we appreciate the efforts that TDOT makes to keep roads in Nashville, Middle Tennessee, and throughout the Volunteer State safe for all drivers. But we also know that driving when construction work is taking place can be dangerous, especially when lane closures are involved or workers are present. It’s important to exercise caution when driving through work zones, as speed limits are often reduced, lanes may be smaller than normal, and paths may be rerouted to avoid areas under construction.

7 Ways to Improve Your Safety in Nashville’s Road Construction Zones

The risk of crashes often increases in the summer even when roads aren’t under construction due to increased traffic volume and drivers traveling greater distances. But when you combine packed roadways with active work zones, drivers face serious threats if they aren’t careful and prepared for all possibilities.

You can protect yourself and your family while driving through work zones by following these seven important tips:

  1. Reduce your speed—Work zone speed limits are often significantly lower than normal speed limits on highways and interstates. While interstates like I-40 and I-65 may have 70 mph speed limits when work zones aren’t active, those speed limits can be reduced to 40 mph or lower when workers are present. Stay on the lookout for signs of upcoming work zones, and when you begin approaching them, start reducing your speed. Don’t wait until you’re already in the work zone to slow down, as doing so may put you at risk of being involved in an accident or getting an expensive citation.
  2. Eliminate distractions—Driving through work zones requires even more focus and concentration than driving on unaffected roadways. That’s because work zones involve stretches of road that are more unpredictable than standard highways and interstates. Studies show that reading or sending a single text message can take up to five seconds. That’s enough time for a vehicle to travel the length of a football field, even at 55 mph—which is at or just above the speed limit in many work zones. Keep your eyes, ears, and mind on the road at all times.
  3. Be patient—Work zones are notorious for causing traffic congestion and delays. In addition to reduced speed limits, you also may have to contend with sudden slow downs or even standstill traffic. Keep the road closure information posted above in mind this summer, especially if you’ll be driving through or around downtown Nashville for appointments or other time-sensitive obligations. Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination, and be patient, even if traffic is heavy and slow-moving. Drivers who are impatient are more likely to cause crashes, especially if they speed or attempt to weave in and out of traffic.
  4. Increase your following distance—Because work zones often involve lane closures and reduced speed limits, it’s common for traffic congestion to increase—especially during the summer when more drivers are on the road. Never follow vehicles too closely when driving through work zones. In fact, it’s best to increase your following distance beyond what’s recommended for normal driving, as the person in front of you may be unfamiliar with the stretch of interstate or highway you’re on, or he or she may be distracted and unable to stop or slow down in response to traffic patterns ahead.
  5. Pay attention to signs and workers—Work zones are often full of signs, and they’re designed to help drivers navigate them safely while avoiding expensive citations. Signs can indicate a variety of important information, including speed limits, upcoming lane closures and when it’s necessary to merge, closed exits or detours, narrowing lanes, and the total distance road projects span on a highway or interstate. In addition to signs, you should also be on the lookout for flaggers or workers who are in charge of directing traffic.
  6. Don’t wait until the last minute to change lanes—Signs indicating lane closures, splits, merges, and narrowing are often posted in areas that give drivers plenty of time to make the appropriate movements before they reach those locations. However, many drivers wait until they reach the specified areas before attempting to change lanes or merge into traffic. In addition to creating major traffic backups, that also increases the risk of accidents. As soon as you see a sign indicating that you’ll need to move over, begin making plans to do so safely as soon as you’re able.
  7. Expect the unexpected—The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recommends that drivers simply “expect the unexpected” when driving through work zones. That’s because work zones are often unpredictable, and they don’t always follow standard east to west or north to south routes like you might normally expect on highways and interstates. In addition to sudden lane shifts and closures, work zones also may include detours, winding paths, and work vehicles that enter or exit lanes without warning. Never take anything for granted while driving through a work zone, and never assume that the lane you’re in won’t suddenly shift, narrow, or end.

The FHWA says that more than 4,400 people died in work zone crashes in a recent five-year period and more than 200,000 people were injured. Rear-end crashes are the most common accident types in work zones, and fatal work zone accidents occurred most often in the summer and fall.

Hurt in a Work Zone Crash? You Need Experienced Legal Representation.

The Nashville auto accident lawyers at Matt Hardin Law know how dangerous work zones can be. They combine many factors that lead to crash-causing scenarios, including heavy traffic volumes, narrow lanes, lane closures and shifts, and impatient drivers.

If you were hurt in a crash in a work zone that was caused by another driver’s negligence, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation. You shouldn’t have to pay out of pocket for your own medical bills and lost wages, and we want to help you get the money you deserve.

Call us today at (615) 200-1111 or fill out an online form to find out how we can put our decades of experience to work for you. We know Tennessee auto accident laws, and we know the insurance company’s tactics. You can count on us to stay one step ahead of the competition from the day you contact us.