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  • Writer's pictureCMAC Communications

Navigating Safely Through Construction Zones

Poor road conditions, rapidly changing traffic flows, and frustrated, impatient motorists combine to make construction zones one of the most hazardous environments you will encounter on the road. Annually, over 95,000 work zone crashes are estimated to occur, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 754 fatalities. Staying alert and aware of your surroundings keeps you safe, in addition to other motorists.

Rear-end and side-swipe crashes are two of the most common truck-involved work zone accidents. Truck-involved rear-end crashes can be caused by unexpected queues (temporary lane closures, mobile operations, incidents - no shoulders) and/or unexpected speed differentials (workspace access, egress/u-turns, driver distraction). Truck-involved side-swipe crashes are commonly caused by lane drop/closure, an abrupt lane shift, rear-end crash avoidance, and poor/confusing centerline stripping. Fatal Work Zone Crashes are most common in the summer and fall.


Expect the unexpected

  • Normal speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be changed, and people may be working near the road

  • Anticipate unusual behavior from motorists

Slow down

  • Speeding is one of the major causes of construction zone crashes

  • Don’t race for position when approaching a construction zone and don’t speed up after in an attempt to make up for lost time

Never tailgate

  • Keep a safe following distance between yourself and the vehicle ahead; use the 4-second rule.

  • The most common crash in a construction zone is a rear-end collision

  • Double-check mirrors to be aware of traffic around you and always keep track of what’s happening directly in front of your truck

  • Expect sudden stops and slowdowns

  • Be on alert for motorists making rapid lane changes

Pay attention to the signs

  • Warning signs are there to help you move safely through the construction zone, observe and pay attention to them until you are out

  • Orange Signs signal work zones

  • Obey road crew flag persons - The road crew has the same authority as work zone signage

Keep up with traffic flow

  • Merge as soon as possible once you know a lane is ending

  • Be patient and stay calm

  • Do not lane hop - Second most prevalent type of crashes (sideswipes)

  • Be patient, pick a lane and stay in it.

  • Be on alert for motorists driving on the shoulder and/or speeding down the ending right lane right up at the barricades to cut in

Expect Delays

  • Schedule enough time to drive safely

  • Research your route to prepare for work zones - check local traffic information before starting your route

  • Use marked detours when possible

Stay alert

  • 31% of crashes in work zones involved at least one large vehicle

  • Alertness directly affects your stopping distance

  • Watch out for slow-moving vehicles and conditions

  • Watch out for workers

  • Maintain margin of safety

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