This week is Work Zone Awareness Week. Maybe it’s not as big as Spring Break or Prom, but it is important! As the weather warms, we’ll see more work crews on the roads – repairing, expanding, repaving and many other construction projects. Construction is never a welcome sight, especially when lanes are blocked and you get stuck in traffic, but before you start honking your horn and tailgating the car in front of you, think about those people on the side of the road and the dangers you face in a work zone – sharp drop offs, large equipment, materials on the roadway, chemical and many others. In fact, 85 percent of the 667 work zone fatalities in 2009 were motorists or their passengers. Here are some ways to keep yourself, your passengers and the work crew safe as you pass through work zones:
- Drive at or below the posted speed limit. Work zones often have a slower speed posted and many states double traffic fines for not obeying them.
- Give the road your full attention. Workers with a flag may be directing traffic and equipment or vehicles may be entering or exiting the main lanes.
- Pay close attention to merge signs and do not change lanes within a work zone. Merge well before you reach a lane closure. Lanes may change during construction and there may be detours, so don’t assume you know the route.
- Be patient! Many construction projects are posted days in advance, giving you time to plan a new route. If you know you need to pass through a work zone, give yourself extra time to avoid rushing.
- Always obey a flagger’s instructions. A flagger has the same authority as a regulatory sign, so you can receive a traffic violation for disobeying.
- The most common crash in a work zone is a rear-end collision, so keep a safe braking distance between you and the car in front of you.
- Most of all, give workers courtesy and respect. They are not there to inconvenience you and, just like you, want to return safely to their families at the end of the day.