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Although it has been hard not to miss potholes over the last several months, the warmer temperatures and melting snow have revealed just how harsh the winter was on Michigan roadways.  Additionally, the I-96 Reconstruction Project in underway to reconstruct the freeway, repairing 37 overpasses and upgrading utilities.  The project closes the nine mile stretch of freeway between Newburgh and Telegraph.  The freeway is expected to reopen in October.

Michigan is no exception to repairs and improvements; construction season is gearing up nationwide and will continue throughout the summer.  Unfortunately, most drivers do not realize how dangerous road construction areas can be and how quickly something can go wrong.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates nearly four in five victims in work-zone accidents are drivers and their passengers.

Although there are training programs for road construction workers on safe work habits, it is not as easy to control driver behavior.  To help prevent serious and fatal accidents, every April, the National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) brings national attention to motorist and worker safety in work zones.  The goal is to educate the public about the critical part motorists play in keeping everyone safe when traveling through work zones.  April 7 – 11, 2014 marks its 15th anniversary and focuses on one of the major causes of work zone accidents – speeding through a work zone.  When traveling at high speeds, drivers can reach a work zone too fast to safely stop.  Combine speed with distractions – texting, talking on a cell phone, etc. and the potential for serious or fatal consequences increases dramatically.

Many work zone auto accidents are completely preventable. Here are several safety tips to help motorists better navigate construction zones:

Plan ahead.  Look for up-to-date construction information.  Adjust your route accordingly and allow extra time to reach your destination.

Pay attention and expect the unexpected.  Give your full attention to the road.  Watch for signs, orange construction cones, workers and flaggers, stopped traffic, and merging traffic.

Slow down.  Follow posted speed limit signs and be aware of construction workers and what is going on around you.

Avoid distractions. Don’t engage in distracted activities such as talking on a cell phone, texting while driving, eating behind the wheel, etc.

Stay calm.  Don’t let traffic jams test your patience.

Keep a Safe Distance.  Don’t tailgate and keep a safe distance from construction workers and equipment.

You may not be in control of the conditions, but you can drive responsibly to keep everyone safe during National Work Zone Awareness Week and year-round.  Will you make a commitment to slow down, pay attention, keep a safe distance from other motorists, and exercise caution around construction workers?

Mark Bello has thirty-seven years experience as a trial lawyer and fifteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice, Public Citizen, the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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