We’ve all seen the signs when driving through highway construction zones – posted warnings that “traffic fines are doubled in work zones,” which increases the cost of your moving violation and most likely your auto insurance rates as well.
While that, in itself, should be enough to have drivers slow down and use caution, it isn’t. Maybe they should also let drivers know that ignoring these types of signs can double the danger of being injured or killed in those same work zones.
Furthermore, to compound the issue, many of the safety tactics used by state departments of transportation to decrease the risk of accidents, such as posted signs to slow down, flaggers (flagmen), and warning cones and barrels, are mostly ignored or simply overlooked by drivers passing through. This makes highway construction zones particularly hazardous for both motorists and workers who build, repair, and maintain our streets, bridges, and freeways.
According to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), there are an average of 40,000 injuries and over 600 fatalities each year from vehicle crashes in work zones. In 2012, the three states with the most motor vehicle crash fatalities in construction and maintenance work zones were Texas, California, and Florida – reporting at least 50 deaths each.
Sure, highway construction zones can be inconvenient, contribute to making you late to your destination, and raise your stress level. But getting frustrated and impatient will only accomplish one thing – increase your risk of injuring yourself or a worker just trying to do his job.
Before you decide to throw caution to the wind by ignoring signs posted for your safety and the safety of others, you may want to follow some of the tips below whenever entering and driving through road work.
- Expect the unexpected
You never know what to expect in a work zone. Things can happen or change quickly when least expected. Construction equipment and workers can be on or cross the roadway and traffic can suddenly slow down or stop without warning.
- Slow down when indicated
Speeding accounts for more than one-third of all fatal accidents in work zones. If the signs indicate to reduce your speed, you should do so. Follow posted speed limits until you are out of the construction zone.
- Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead
Rear-end collisions are common in work zones, accounting for 30 percent of accidents. Keeping a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you, including construction equipment and workers, will greatly reduce your risk of an accident and watching your auto insurance rates go up.
- Obey road crew flagger instructions and posted road signs
Flagmen and warning signs are there for a reason – to assist drivers to maneuver safely through a work zone and stop you when the road ahead is blocked.
- Remain alert and focused on driving
Now is not the time to change to change the music or engage in other distracted driving behaviors such as texting. Your attention should be on the road and only on the road while in the work zone.
- Keep up with traffic
Nobody likes a “rubbernecker” or “looky-loo”. Keep up with the traffic flow. Don’t slow down to watch the roadwork or you could end up with a sore neck from getting rear-ended or be responsible for causing an accident behind you.
- Be patient
While being stuck in traffic can grate on your nerves, having to reduce your speed or stopping for a flagger for a few minutes to let heavy equipment cross the highway isn’t the end of the world. Remember, the crews are there to improve your driving experience by repairing or widening the road you’re on.
Getting to your destination should be secondary to your safety, because arriving in one piece trumps being a few minutes late. So, keep these construction work zone tips in mind and reduce your risk of an accident and higher car insurance.