Construction on I-85 in Spartanburg and Cherokee counties promises a better highway system in Upstate South Carolina; however, in ongoing roadwork creates a risk of car accidents. Drivers on the highway need to be aware of frequent lane closures, narrow shoulders, and inconsistent construction signage. Read below to learn some construction safety tips that can help you avoid auto accidents in this area of the state.
What Is the I-85 Construction Project?
The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) is working with contractors to widen and rehabilitate Interstate 85 beginning at mile marker 77 and ending at the North Carolina state line. The roadwork involves a total of 29 miles of interstate in Spartanburg and Cherokee counties.
Between mile markers 77 and 80 in Spartanburg County, the construction team will widen and rehabilitate the existing highway. The current four-lane interstate will be widened to six lanes between mile markers 80 and 90 in Cherokee County and from mile marker 98 through the North Carolina state line. A travel lane will be added in both directions and several exits and exit ramps will be reconstructed. Additionally, two railroad bridge crossings will be replaced.
The goal of construction on I-85 is to reduce traffic congestion while improving safety for all drivers on the roadway. Widening the corridor will also boost the local economy by increasing the capacity of this section of the highway. These improvements to I-85 will allow this South Carolina interstate system to function more efficiently.
During the construction, SCDOT will use lane shifts to allow contractors to work on I-85 throughout the day. Barriers will be placed and traffic lanes going in one direction may be shifted to the other side of the highway. Northbound and Southbound traffic will each have two lanes for a period of time.
Detailed information about the I-85 construction project and lane closures can be found on the SCDOT I-85 Widening Project website.
Work Zone Car Accident Statistics
Work zones are extremely dangerous because of constant changes and the presence of construction equipment and workers.
According to the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse, there were approximately 102,000 crashes in construction areas throughout the United States in 2020 (the most recent year for which data is available). Those car accidents led to more than 44,000 injuries and 857 fatalities. More than 150 construction workers were killed by auto crashes.
All of these accidents could have been avoided with better diligence from drivers and construction workers.
How to Avoid Car Accidents in Construction Zones
There are steps that drivers can take to avoid car accidents in work zones.
- Plan Ahead – Work zones typically have significant traffic congestion. You should expect delays and avoid these areas whenever possible.
- Obey Signs – SCDOT will place cones, barrels, barriers, and signs in work zones that help you drive safely. These indicators will direct you which lane to drive in, when to reduce your speed, and how to avoid workers.
- Slow Down – Speed limits in construction zones are typically lower to allow drivers time to process new traffic patterns and to protect workers. Keep a safe distance from cars ahead of you to avoid a crash if there is a sudden stop.
- Move Over – If you see construction vehicles or workers on the shoulder of the road, move as far to the left as possible. Give them space to avoid swerving into them or throwing debris from your tires.
- Avoid Distractions – Distracted driving can be especially dangerous in a work zone. You must be alert to notice new signs, adjusted speed limits, increased traffic, and unexpected construction vehicles and workers.
- Watch for Sudden Stops – Traffic congestion is common in work zones, so sudden stopping is often required. Leave plenty of space between yourself and the vehicle in front of you so that a sudden stop doesn’t catch you off guard.
- Be Aware of Large Vehicles – Construction supplies and equipment often drive on the roadway in work zones. They can interfere with traffic and may drive slowly.
- Ask Passengers for Help – You may be so focused on the traffic ahead that you miss important signage. Ask passengers in your vehicle to help watch out for signs and lane closures.
- Watch for Workers – Construction workers will be present in all South Carolina work zones. Avoid them by moving to the left when you see them on the shoulder of the road.
- Be Patient – If you must drive through work zones, you should remain calm and follow the rules of the road. Keep in mind that the I-85 construction will be done soon and will benefit the entire area.
Call a Car Accident Lawyer If You Need Help
If you are involved in a work zone accident, you should immediately call a car accident attorney who can protect your rights. Ryan Montgomery Law has helped countless victims like you get the compensation they need to move forward after a serious accident. You shouldn’t shoulder the burden alone. Call us today at (864) 207-4927 for a case consultation.