With Spring only a few short months ahead of us, highway construction and maintenance season will soon be in full swing, with work zones popping up all over the country.
We’ve all had first hand experience with work zones resulting in lane closures that disrupt traffic flow and create hazards as many drivers attempt to change lanes. When approaching work zones, as commercial drivers, we need to slow down and pay full attention to the road ahead and surrounding environment.
Today we’ll talk about ten work-zone safety tips, provided and discussed by the Federal Highway Administration:
1. Along any road, major or minor, if there is a work zone, expect the unexpected. Normal speed limits are likely to be reduced, traffic lanes may be closed off or changed, and people and vehicles may be working on or near the road.
2. Diamond-shaped orange warning signs are often posted in advance of road construction projects. Slow down. Be alert. Pay attention to all signs.
3. In addition to the diamond-shaped orange warning signs, there may be a “flagger ahead” warning sign posted within the work zone. When you see this, be prepared to follow and obey the flagger’s directions. In a work zone, a flagger has the same authority as a regulatory sign, so you can be cited for disobeying their directions.
4. Stay calm and truck on. Work zones aren’t meant to personally inconvenience you. They’re necessary to improve the road conditions for everyone.
5. When you notice flashing arrow panels or “lane closed ahead” signs, make sure to merge as soon as possible. Don’t try to speed right up to the lane closure and then try to merge in. If everyone cooperates, traffic moves more efficiently. Motorists, and commercial truckers in general, can help maintain traffic flow and posted speeds by moving to the appropriate lane at first notice of an approaching work zone, before it becomes a problem.
6. Slow down when the work zone signs tell you to. A car traveling 60 mph travels 88 feet per second and will need additional time to slow down the faster you are going.
7. The most common vehicle accident that occurs in a highway work zone is the rear-end collision. Remember to leave at least two seconds of braking distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. The amount of space required to provide two seconds of stopping time will increase the faster you’re driving.
8. Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and traffic barriers, other trucks, construction equipment and workers. Just like you, highway workers do not want to be involved in an accident.
9. Certain work-zone projects, such as line painting, road patching and mowing, are mobile, meaning that they move across or along the road as the project progresses. If you don’t see the workers immediately after you see the warning signs, that doesn’t mean they’re not out there. Be sure to observe the posted signs until you see the “End Roadwork” or a sign that says you’ve exited the work zone.
10. Highway agencies use many different and varying ways to inform motorists and truckers about the location and duration of major work zones. Often, the agencies will suggest a detour to help you avoid the work zone entirely. If you plan your route ahead of time, you can try to take an alternate route.