Every summer the warm weather brings out the roadwork crews. Although reduced speeds and stop and go driving can be frustrating for drivers—commercial and public alike—it is necessary to maintain the infrastructure.
If you think about it, it can be frustrating for road crews, too, having to work very close to vehicles passing through their work zone. It’s quite often hot, dusty and machinery is moving all the time. And then you get someone going 55 mph in a 35 mph zone. The workers can't control the environmental conditions and now a speeding driver increases everyone’s injury potential. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that every day there are two deaths associated with work zone crashes in the U.S.
Road work zones aren’t going away, so employers need to not only have “work zone etiquette” as part of their driver training but go a step further and issue an annual reminder about risks in the summertime, including work zones.
A good driver will always:
- Get the big picture. This is an old adage and refers to being prepared for what's around the bend. Signs indicating construction are often posted miles before the work area. This lets traffic know which lane is closed, the new speed limit and to be alert.
- Obey the posted speed limit in the work zone. The work zone is where workers are at their greatest risk, sometimes just an arms length away from traffic.
- Follow at a safe distance. Construction vehicles are pulling in and out of the closed lane posing a potential hazard. Don’t draft the vehicle in front you.
- Be cautious of the flag person. The vast majority of flaggers do this tough job very well. But there have been cases where communications have crossed and accidents have happened. My company has seen some very tragic cases of flaggers being seriously injured by vehicles. Don't lower your awareness just because somebody waves you on.