Summer is the time for roadwork and we’re seeing it in full force around Indiana. Clusters of orange cones, signs, and safety vests are dotting our usual routes and there are all kinds of reduced speed zones, detours, and lane alterations that come with that roadwork. To stay your safest in the midst of these summer road improvements, here are ten tips for driving safely in work zones.
- Be ready for anything.
Regardless of how major or minor the construction zone is, you never know what might happen in a work site—either on the workers’ end or with other drivers. Be aware of reduced speed limits, changed up traffic lanes, and any people or construction vehicles maneuvering on or near the road.
- Watch the signage.
Orange, diamond-shaped warning signs are usually posted well in advance of road construction projects. Slow down and pay attention to what they say, then follow any instructions sooner rather than later.
- Respect the flaggers.
Amongst other construction warning signs, sometimes a “Flagger Ahead” sign is present. When you see one, stay alert and be ready to obey the flagger’s directions—in a construction zone, a flagger has the same authority as a regulatory construction sign, so you can be cited for disregarding a flagger’s directions.
- Stay calm.
Adding road rage or impatience to the mix in an already tense environment is a recipe for trouble. Construction sites are inconvenient, but they’re not placed to personally inconvenience you—follow directions and be patient as you’re working through the construction site. You’ll be on your way soon enough.
- Merge as soon as you’re able.
If you see flashing arrow panels or “Lane Closed Ahead” signs, merging is going to be necessary before the end of the site. Merge as soon as possible if you’re in the ending lane or if you’re in the proper lane, allow other drivers to merge into your lane. Zooming up to the lane closure and then trying to wedge your way into the continuing lane will either cause a collision, upset the flow of traffic, or just upset your fellow drivers.
- Slow down to the posted speed limits.
Speeding in a reduced speed construction zone is a quick way to an accident, ticket, or both—this isn’t really news to anyone. However, it’s important to start slowing down as soon as you see that reduced speed sign. A car traveling 60 mph travels 88 feet per second—if you’re going 60 and you pass a sign that reads, “Road Work 1,500 feet,” you’ll reach that work zone in 17 seconds. Start decreasing your speed immediately to avoid running into a problem.
- Leave space between yourself and the car in front of you.
The most common crash in a highway work zone is a read-end collision—a general rule of thumb is to leave two seconds of braking distance between yourself and the car in front of you. The amount of space required to provide two seconds of stopping time will increase as your speed increases, so think ahead.
- In fact, leave a little space all around you if you’re able.
Keeping a safe distance between your vehicle and traffic barriers, trucks, construction equipment, and workers isn’t a bad idea either. Just like you, highway workers are thinking of safety as a number one priority—minding their workspace gives you both the ability to stay out of harm’s way.
- Watch for an “End of Construction” sign.
Some work zones (line painting, road patching, and mowing for example) are mobile, moving down the road as their work progresses. Just because you don’t see workers immediately following a warning sign doesn’t mean they’re not still out working. Observe posted signs and regulations until you see one that clearly states that you’ve left the work zone.
- Plan ahead.
There are usually ways to find out about construction zones before you reach them—highway agencies use a variety of ways to inform motorists about the location and duration of major construction projects. Sometimes a detour will even be suggested so you can avoid the work zone entirely. Plan ahead or try an alternate route if you don’t want to deal with the construction zone.
Drive safely this summer as you pass through construction zones—they’re laid out to improve the roads for everyone and they’re also temporary, so dealing with them as signage, flaggers, and highway agencies dictate while they’re active is the best way to go. However, not all drivers will be as safe as you and there’s only so much you can do to avoid a collision. If you’ve been the victim of a trucking accident or car accident in a construction zone, contact Boughter Law Office today.
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration