Causing an Automobile Accident in a Construction Zone

Posted by Stevenson Whelton MacDonald & Swan
June 07, 2019


On May 4th, two persons were fatally injured in a single-car collision on the QEW in Oakville after their car struck construction equipment that was parked at the side of the side of the highway and burst into flame. On April 23rd, a London man struck a truck on Highway 401 that was protecting workers who were painting lines on the Highway, causing substantial damage to the vehicles but fortunately, no injuries.

Car and truck accidents are all-too-common in construction zones throughout Ontario, particularly on Ontario highways which seem to be habitually under construction during the summer months, at one location or another.  And often, accidents in construction zones result in serious injuries or fatalities for vehicle occupants and/or construction workers.  

Also, when one vehicle fails to slow down for stopped or slowed traffic, many other vehicles and casualties may be involved in the ensuing accident as multiple vehicles rear-end one another.  This is what occurred in a September 2018 collision on Highway 401 which resulted when a transport truck failed to slow down for stopped traffic in a construction zone and crashed into the back of another tractor trailer truck, causing a train reaction involving several vehicles.

Driving at an excessive speed is the most common cause of car accidents in construction zones.  Correspondingly, careless driving or dangerous driving charges are often laid against drivers who don’t take reasonable care and cause an accident in a construction zone.  However, this is little consolation for the victims of such accidents, who may be able to collect damages from the at fault driver but often find that their lives have been irrevocably changed as a result of their injuries.   

When entering a construction zone, you can substantially reduce the risk of causing an accident by adhering to the following safe driving strategies.  

  • Be immediately prepared to slow down as soon as you see a sign warning of a construction zone ahead, and follow the posted speed limits.
  • Don’t tailgate: leave enough space between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead to allow stopping for an unexpected delay
  • Be alert for construction vehicles and personnel who may be entering or exiting the construction zone.
  • Stay within cones or other signs/markings that indicate where traffic should proceed within the zone.
  • Give yourself extra travel time if you’ll be driving through a construction zone

In the interests of promoting safety in construction zones, under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act, persons convicted of traffic violations in highway construction zones are subject to more severe penalties than for similar violations in areas not under construction.  With respect to speeding, careless driving and racing in a construction zone, offenders face double demerit points and double fines, up to the specified maximum fine for the offence. And, persons convicted of driving at a speed more than 50 km/hr over the posted limit may have their licence suspended for up to 60 days.

Depending on the nature of the accident, accident victims injured in a construction zone may be eligible to claim compensation for any losses associated with their injury.  Most often, the at fault driver is named as the defendant in a personal injury claim, but sometimes, the construction zone may not be properly or safely designed, marked or maintained and as a result, road users are put at risk.  In such a case, the construction company or municipality may be found liable for any injuries sustained by drivers or passengers.

In Van Tent v. Abbotsford (City), 2013, the construction contractor and municipality were held 80 percent liable for injuries sustained by a motorcyclist when he drifted onto a two-inch drop-off at the edge of the payment in a construction zone on the Trans Canada Highway.  The defendants were found negligent for failing to mark and properly warn motorists of the uneven payment.

If you or a loved one were injured in a construction zone accident, talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer at Stevenson Whelton MacDonald & Swan to get an honest assessment of your case and find out if you have good grounds to make a claim for compensation.

Disclaimer: Our blog is intended to inform our existing and prospective clients about topics pertinent to their lives. While our goal is to provide accurate and factual information, this in no way should be taken as legal advice or applied to specific cases. It is in your best interest to contact a licenced and practising lawyer for legal representation, as matters of the law are often complicated and cannot be fully assessed without knowing all of the details of a case.