By Marita Mathe
Slow down and be alert when approaching a work zone.
Work Zone Ahead signs can frustrate drivers on the road when slow traffic affects our daily routine. But we can lose a lot more than just a few minutes if we don’t follow traffic laws for construction areas.
Construction zones can be dangerous for both drivers and workers. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, in the past five years there were 4,400 deaths and 200,000 injuries in road construction zones. Of the 4,400 deaths, 85 percent were drivers or passengers and 15 percent were construction workers.
When driving through construction zones, follow these tips to help reduce your potential for accidents and other problems:
- Slow down. Most sites are only a short distance overall and it takes only an extra 25 seconds to cover one mile traveling at 45 mph as compared with 65 mph. Virtually all states increase penalties for speeding through highway construction zones, and many mandate jail time for injuries caused by a driver speeding in a construction zone.
- Maintain adequate following distance. Allow adequate space for controlled speed changes and stops. Riding the tailgate of the vehicle in front of you will not get you through any sooner.
- Expect the unexpected! Dedicate your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions – such as changing the radio station – and never use your phone while driving, especially in construction areas. Be wary of the vehicles around you that might suddenly drift, stop or change lanes. Many drivers around you will be looking at the construction activity instead of paying attention to the road.
- Keep your headlights on. Even during daytime, keep your headlights on to enhance your visibility to workers and oncoming traffic.
- Change lanes sooner rather than later. Vehicles merging at the last minute is a leading cause of accidents in construction zones.
- Pay attention to the signs. The signs are there to help alert you to what is to coming. Be sure to observe these signs until after you have left the construction zone.
- Obey the flaggers. They are there to help ensure that traffic flows safely through the site. Drivers can be cited for not properly following flaggers’ instructions.
Don’t become a statistic. Be focused and careful when traveling through construction zones because you’re not only putting your life in harm’s way, but the lives of others.
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