Inattentive, reckless drivers put Kansas roadside workers at risk

Road maintenance workers, construction workers, and emergency responders across Kansas put their lives on the line each day to earn a living. The actions of distracted drivers, speeders, and drunk drivers are unpredictable, and sometimes roadside workers are injured or killed in crashes.

Roadside workers seek to raise awareness

One roadside worker for the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) recalls his truck being struck three times within two years. During each incident, his vehicle had arrow lights notifying drivers to move over.

“Our trucks are lit up like a Christmas tree, you even got a message board that pulls up. What more can we do to alert motorists? That’s really why it frustrates me more than anything. It’s scary, it, at times, feels overwhelming,” he said.

Fortunately, the worker wasn’t seriously injured in any of the crashes. Two other MoDOT employees, however, had been killed by negligent drivers within the past 15 years while conducting roadside work.

During National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week — which took place November 10-16, 2019 — MoDOT teamed up with the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) to raise awareness about the dangers roadside workers and emergency responders face each day.

Crashes involving roadside workers far too common

In both Kansas and Missouri, the law requires that drivers move over to another lane when roadside workers are present. Otherwise, drivers are required to slow down when passing an emergency crew or worksite. Sadly, many drivers do the opposite.

For example, a study conducted by the Center for Construction Research and Training found that from 2011-2016, approximately 532 construction workers were killed while working roadside. Roughly half of those deaths involved being struck by negligent drivers.

According to data cited by the National Safety Council (NSC), there were 37 traffic fatalities and more than 17,000 injuries in 2013 due to crashes involving emergency responders.

What did the roadside safety survey show?

The NSC also surveyed drivers regarding their behavior around workers responding to roadside emergencies. Nearly half of all participants said that being struck by a car is just part of the job. The survey also found that:

  • Nearly 20 percent of drivers admitted to driving distracted when passing a roadside work zone.
  • Nearly a quarter said they were unaware of any laws requiring them to slow down or move over.
  • About 80 percent admitted to slowing down to observe a roadside emergency.

The message can’t be clearer and simpler: drivers must reduce their speed and move over when passing a roadside work zone or emergency responders. If you’re a roadside worker who was injured by a driver who inattentive or behaving recklessly, you have the right to take legal action.

The Kansas attorneys at Bretz & Young Injury Lawyers are dedicated to fighting for the rights of injured roadside workers. We handle car, truck, and pedestrian accident claims, as well as workers’ compensation claims.

We will gladly discuss the legal options available to you and help you build a strong legal claim. To learn more, contact us online and schedule your free consultation.