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.
PRECAUTIONS YOU CAN TAKE
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
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
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
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
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
Sources and Resources: