In some parts of the country, there’s an old joke that they have
two seasons: winter and construction. The Florida version of that adage
is that our seasons are tourist and construction, yet the argument can
be made that our generally pleasant weather means there is no real construction
off-season. And since people are always trying to get from point A to
point B, they are inevitably going to encounter construction zones. Whether
you're traveling by car, bike, or foot, road construction is as commonplace
as your favorite coffee shop. It’s easy to grow complacent and not
really consider the dangers often involved in construction areas. Yet,
these sites pose hazards to members of the motoring and non-motoring public alike.
Ways You Can Help Yourself When Near Construction Zones
- Pay attention – don’t be distracted by your phone.
- Watch for sidewalk closure signs and follow posted notices of temporary
- Listen for instructions by workers.
- Watch for vehicles entering and exiting the worksite.
- Cross at intersections, marked crosswalks or signalized intersections.
- Stay outside orange cones, fences and barricades.
When construction areas creep into pedestrian territory, walkers and bikers
are often directed to alternate routes, which may be unsafe, difficult
to navigate, or both. Pedestrians and bicyclists are particularly vulnerable
because they lack protection. They don’t have the benefit of airbags
or seatbelts or being surrounded by metal. They also lack the safety training
of the workers at the site, so it’s up to those in charge of construction
areas to take adequate precautions for everyone – including the
disabled and the blind.
Some of the measures that should be addressed:
- Advance warning and guidance signs should be used to prevent mid-block
- Bicyclists should be warned about surface irregularities.
- Detoured routes should be clearly defined.
- Temporary routes should not be much longer than original routes.
- Transit stops should still be accessible or reasonably relocated.
- Nighttime lighting should be provided.
- Pedestrian routes should be physically separated (barricade, fencing, etc.)
from the work space and from motor vehicle traffic, and should be ADA
- Holes, excavations and trenches should be fenced in or otherwise guarded.
- Sidewalk sheds, netting and chutes should be used to protect people from
- Flag workers should be used wherever there are unusual traffic patterns
or high traffic areas.
- Movement by work vehicles and equipment across designated pedestrian paths
should be minimized.
- Dangerous building materials should be properly used and disposed of.
- Steps should be taken to manage dust.
- A worksite supervisor should walk the route daily, noting and correcting
issues, and making sure the path is clear of debris.
Pedestrians already have a tough time in Florida.
Between 2003 and 2012, almost 5,200 people were killed while walking in Florida, representing
17.7 percent of the 29,302 traffic-related fatalities in the state during
this period. Of the metro areas in the Sunshine State, the Miami-Fort
Lauderdale-Pompano Beach area ranked first, with 1,539 pedestrian fatalities.
Florida’s overall Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) is 168.65, which
places it nationally at No. 1. For the years 2003 to 2010, these fatalities
include 233 children under age 16 and 960 adults aged 65 or older. The
news isn’t any better for bicyclists.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida has the highest rate of bicycling deaths of any state in the nation
— 0.57 per 100,000 people, more than double the nationwide rate
of 0.23 per 100,000.
Many construction sites inconvenience and endanger pedestrians, while site
developers use sidewalks as staging areas. The question of responsibility
can get tricky when contractors, subcontractors, owners, engineers, equipment
manufacturers, scaffolding companies, and other entities all work together
in a construction zone. They may accuse one another of having ultimate
responsibility for safety at the site. Because injuries near construction
areas can involve multiple parties, including some that may not be obvious
initially, it is important to have your case evaluated by an attorney.
As one of South Florida's most respected and oldest law firms,
Stabinski & Funt, P.A. has helped many people sort out their legal rights, responsibilities,
and remedies. For 45 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless
construction zone accident victims, and we are highly experienced in handling
a wide range of personal injury cases. We also work on a contingency basis,
which means that if there is no recovery, there is no fee or cost to you.
If you wish to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you,
we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 305-643-3100 or
filling out a case evaluation form.