With the COVID-19 pandemic reducing normal holiday traffic rates, the Georgia Department of Transportation has taken advantage of this time to initiate their Quick Response project and install a new traffic light in Macon, which they hope will improve drivers’ safety and traffic flow.
On Thursday morning, December 17th, crews with Wilburn Engineering of Newman began installing the new traffic light at the I-75 exit ramp to Georgia 74/Mercer University Drive.
Drivers are advised to travel slowly when passing through this area and be aware of crew members as they work to ensure their safety and efficiency.
What’s considered a work zone?
Georgia Code §40-6-188 defines a “highway work zone” as a segment of any highway, road, or street where the DOT, a county, a municipality, or contractor is constructing, reconstructing, or maintaining the physical structure of the roadway, its shoulders or features adjacent to the roadway.
This includes off- and on-ramps like the one in Macon.
What are the laws for driving through a work zone?
In order to minimize traffic disruptions, the Georgia DOT keeps roads open even during maintenance. This is great for drivers who frequently use highways and other major roads, but it’s also a hazardous situation for the workers, drivers, and passengers.
In 2019, the total number of crashes in Georgia work zones added up to 26,039 crashes and resulted in 8,355 injuries and 38 driver fatalities.
No fatalities for road workers were reported in 2019, according to the Georgia DOT. But since accurate record keeping began in 1973, 60 fatalities amongst Georgia road workers have been reported.
Can you be fined in a work zone?
While most traffic violations are considered minor misdemeanors, there are severe penalties for speeding through a work zone in Georgia. The fine is $2,000 or up to 1 year in jail, sometimes both. And based on the speed at which you’re traveling, you could also receive points on your license.
- 15-18 mph = 2 points
- 19-23 mph = 3 points
- 24-33 mph = 4 points
- 34+ mph = 6 points
Failure to yield to a construction vehicle is also considered a traffic violation and results in 3 points on your driver’s license. If a Georgia driver exceeds 15 points in 24 months, their license will be suspended.
Safety tips for driving through work zones
Per Governor Brian Kemp’s executive order to reduce spreading COVID-19, Georgia drivers are encouraged to travel as little as possible, especially during the holidays. But if it’s essential for you to be on the road, the following road safety tips are recommended by the Georgia DOT when traveling through work zones.
- Stay alert. Be aware of your surroundings, such as other drivers and road crews, while traveling in a work zone.
- Slow down. Failing to obey the reduced speed limit can result in car accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
- Don’t tailgate. Unless a work zone has caused congestion on the road, maintain a safe distance of at least 1 car length between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- Keep up. Don’t slow down to gawk at the work being done. Maintain a safe speed and pay attention to the other vehicles.
- Obey flaggers. The workers who direct traffic are called flaggers, and disobeying their signs is the same as disobeying any other traffic signal.
- Wear your seatbelt. With work zones having a high risk of car accidents, wearing a seatbelt is important to minimizing injuries in the event of a crash.
Who’s liable if I’m hit in a work zone?
If you or a loved one are an employee of a company contracted to do maintenance work on the road and you’re hit by a vehicle, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. You may also be entitled to sue the at-fault motorist if it’s proven that negligence was a factor.
The circumstances vary from case to case, but at the law firm of Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Hinson, our commitment to serving injured workers is always the same. We will fight to help you receive compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages.