According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, construction zones play a crucial role in maintaining and upgrading the nation's roadways. However, they also cause significant changes in traffic patterns such as detours, delays, and narrowed turns that may result in accidents. In the U.S., work zones account for an estimated ten percent of overall congestion and 24 percent of unexpected freeway delays.
Road work can be short-term or long-term, and it can happen anytime during the year, though it's prevalent in the summer. Highways, specifically, become more dangerous for workers and drivers when construction is at hand. Every year, according to the National Safety Council, 100 road construction workers are killed.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also reported that increased funding for work on the roads is the cause of the spike in speed limits, impatient drivers, and traffic congestion, which in turn causes an increase in the number of injuries and fatalities. Unfortunately, these numbers are expected to climb.
When work on the road begins, drivers should expect a lot of changes on their commutes. Despite how frustrating it is to maneuver through these hazardous areas, it's essential to drive safely. Not only do drivers have to look out for themselves, but for other motorists and workers as well.
When approaching a construction zone, look for orange cones, barrels, large vehicles, and workers with flags, in hard hats, and bright colored vests.
Look for orange signs and cones. The orange, diamond-shaped signs with black writing will let drivers know exactly where construction begins and ends. When drivers see this sign, they should slow down to the posted speed limit and pay close attention to what's around them. If there is no reduced speed limit, then drivers should go the standard speed limit. They should also look for detour signs and cones to other roads that may be drivable or cut off.
Follow flaggers' directions. Flaggers or workers hold signs and use their arms to help cars maneuver through construction zones. It's important that drivers pay attention to them as it will make the transition into and out of the area easy for everyone. Drivers should also be patient as the commute may be slower than usual.
Be cautious at night. Night driving is more dangerous than day driving. The risk of accidents occurring is much higher too. It's harder to see the signs and cones. Workers may or may not be present to help guide traffic. Whatever the situation, use caution when maneuvering through work zones at night.
Don't get distracted. Distracted driving is dangerous in its own right. Distracted driving through a work zone is worse. It's impossible for a driver to know what's coming or what the orange sign ahead means if they're too busy trying to send a text. Too many accidents have occurred, and too many workers have been struck down while working on the side of the road because drivers were not paying attention. Eliminate all distractions so that there are fewer injuries and fatalities.
Plan your commute or avoid the area. Drivers should keep in mind that some construction projects are long-term. They can take months to complete and therefore cause daily changes in traffic, such as lane shifts and alternating closures. If your route to work is one of those affected by construction, plan accordingly by leaving early or find another way to your destination. You can also keep up with the status of the roads by checking traffic flow before heading out. When possible, avoid constructions zones altogether.
For more safety tips on driving through construction zones or if you want to see what your insurance options are, visit Donegal Insurance Group at https://www.donegalgroup.com/home.