Road Construction and Car Accidents

By September 2, 2020

One of my greatest concerns this time of year are the number of car accident cases that occur in the North Country — and throughout New York State — in road construction areas.  As frustrating as it is to have to slow down and be aware of different patterns on the roadway due to construction, it is essential and it is the law.

It is frustrating, though, when the road construction crew are not properly trained in directing traffic through these zones.  Even flagmen and flag-women are woefully unprepared and untrained in the techniques of affirmatively, clearly and safely directing traffic.  Many times we have all observed some — certainly not all — flagmen chatting it up with their co-workers and not paying attention to the traffic.  It is a real problem.  And some construction projects do not even employ flagmen when they should.

Our good friend, Dave Werner, of the Franklin County (NY) Traffic Safety Board, recently published a piece on Road Construction issues that you will find very useful and informative.  Dave is very familiar with these issues throughout the North Country of New York.  Here it is:

“It has been said that in Upstate New York there are only two seasons – winter and road construction. Well, winter is over, so it must be road construction season. That replaces snowy and icy roads with work zones, construction equipment, lane closures, flagmen, and delays for drivers.

First, remember that in work zones, speed limits are normally reduced, and, if caught speeding, fines are doubled. Safety for the workers is paramount, and too many drivers don’t respect the reduced speeds and flagmen associated with these projects. They should. Road work is a dangerous job, mainly due to distracted drivers or speed.

Other potential hazards facing drivers include low or soft shoulders, oils from the new asphalt contributing to possible slipperier road surfaces for several days, and possibly no pavement striping until the municipality that owns the highway applies the proper centerline and fog line striping.

Relative to the asphalt oils causing slipperier roads, I posed this possibility to the experts at Cornell Local Roads Program in Ithaca. Their response to slipperier roads after a paving job was that the first few days could be slightly slipperier but not significantly so.

Although I have not seen factual information that shows speeds increase after a new paving project, it stands to reason that this might be true, as the newly paved road is much smoother than before the reconstruction. So, drivers, please resist the temptation to speed because the cracks, potholes and bumps have been replaced by a nice smooth road, more conducive to faster speeds.

Roads in Upstate New York are costly to maintain, much more so than roads in the southern part of the U.S., where frost does not penetrate roadways like in our area, and there are not as many freeze/thaw cycles that contribute to pavement breakup and pot holes. So, put up with a slight inconvenience this summer when being slowed down or held up for a few minutes by paving crews. You’ll appreciate the better road the next time through.”   — Dave Werner

So, if you have been in a car accident, we can help you.  Steve Vanier, Luke Babbie and I have been successfully handling car accident cases for decades.  We have offices in Potsdam, New York and Malone, New York.  And if for some reason you can’t come to us, we can travel to you.  We also are fully equipped with Zoom, Skype, Face Time and other applications to communicate with you directly and “virtually”.  We handle car accident and other accident and malpractice cases throughout St. Lawrence County, Franklin County, Essex County and Clinton County in a law firm that has been established and serving the public since 1875.  So if you are from Gouverneur, Massena, Ogdensburg, Canton, Potsdam, Malone, Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, Tupper Lake, Plattsburgh and all points in between, give us a call at 518-483-1440 or the number on our website.  You can also email us at

Joe Nichols


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