Critical Crash Concerns for I-4 Corridor Construction
It was originally known as the Orlando Expressway, and began the transformation of the state of Florida into a tourism destination. Now known as the I-4 Corridor, this 132-mile stretch of highway is a major artery for commuters and the transportation of goods, and it contributed to the development of communities and business districts along its route.
According to the Florida Department of Transportation, the construction of the I-4 Corridor will cost $2.3 billion dollars and stretch into the year 2021. The site www.i4ultimate.com is dedicated to educating the public about the massive reconstruction undertaking by the FDOT.
“Safety is a huge concern for this extensive of a road construction project,” said Stefano Portigliatti, Coker Law’s trucking crash attorney. “Drivers will encounter changing speed limits, lane closures and workers standing close to traffic.”
Corridor of Concern
Portigliatti has good reason for concern. The I-4 Corridor project will include 21 miles of construction from Orange County to Seminole County. It will include the addition of two new express lanes in each direction, replacement of more than 140 bridges, reconfiguration of 15 major interchanges and reconstruction of the entire existing roadway. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 165 deaths on I-4 between 2011-2015, making it the most deadly stretch of highway in the country, even before the bulk of construction. Portigliatti said there are critical dangers that drivers are highly likely to encounter as they navigate their way through this maze of construction.
Trucks Entering the Highway
Every year, crashes involving trucks kill hundreds of people and injure thousands. Trucks are heavier and larger, and their impact can be catastrophic. On roadways under construction, the chance of a collision with a truck is increased because they are entering and exiting these constructions sites at a much lower speed than traffic. Additionally, construction often causes roadways to turn and wind with much narrower lanes. “The difference in speed, dangerous maneuvers and close proximity between passenger vehicles and semis are a recipe for disaster. I had a case where a woman drove into the back of a slow-moving log truck because it was dark, and it was carrying a load that she couldn’t see,” Portigliatti explained. “If a truck is not going the speed limit or doesn’t have the proper lighting or reflective materials on its loads, it can very quickly turn dangerous or deadly for drivers.”
Poorly or Incorrectly Marked Roadways
When roadway engineers design road changes and repairs, they are required to include intricate details in their design documents. Portigliatti worries that those best laid plans are not always put into action when subcontractors mark the roadways. “In these types of crashes, it can often first appear as if it’s the fault of the driver, but when we do our investigating, we sometimes find it’s the subcontractors who did not follow the plan and mismarked the roadways,” Portigliatti noted. “These accidents can be terrible. Imagine running out of roadway or turning into the wrong lane, especially at night when it can be even harder to see the cones or markings.”
Self-Driving or Smart Vehicles
Portigliatti is a member of the National Auto Dealers Association, which studies and plans for the future of automotive technology. Portigliatti predicts an increase in accidents involving automated and semi-automated vehicles as they attempt to navigate roadways under construction. Smart driving technology works in tandem with roadways that communicate traffic elements, like red or green lights, pedestrians or stop signs. “If the vehicle is operating based on what it expects to encounter from its internal mapping, but they’ve changed a major part of the roadway, then what the automobile knows is outdated. Who warns it?” Portigliatti said. “That has to be resolved – and quickly.” He predicts that the responsibility for safety is going to shift more from the vehicle or driver to the roadway.
IF YOU’RE INVOLVED IN A CRASH, WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
In 2012, there were 51 fatalities, 3,476 serious injuries and 4,677 crashes in Florida work zones. Coker Law cautions drivers to be careful and advises that if you are injured by a negligent driver, speak with an experienced truck accident attorney. You may qualify to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and other expenses related to your injuries. To speak with trucking crash attorney Stefano Portigliatti, or for more information, call (904) 356-6071 or click here to schedule a free consultation.