You’ve probably encountered them during your commute or while you’ve been on a road trip, and it’s possible their presence caused you to feel somewhat frustrated or impatient or even annoyed – We’re talking about roadway work zones. And yes, whether you’re en route to the office, to an appointment or just running errands, work zones seem to pop up at the most inconvenient times. In fact, the Federal Highway Administration says that work zones account for an estimated 10 percent of congestion and nearly 24 percent of unexpected freeway delays.
But it’s important to remember two things when driving in a work zone: First, work zones exist to improve our roadways, and second, actual human beings are involved in the work and are affected by your driving choices in a work zone.
Summer and fall are high seasons for roadway construction, and with more construction comes a greater risk of accidents. With that in mind, we share our top tips for keeping yourself and others safe when driving in work zones.
Tip #1: Be ready for work zones
For starters, anticipate the possibility of work zones and accept them as part of the driving experience. As long as there are roads, there will be road work. Expect it and accept it to be ready for it.
To find out whether your route is affected by construction on any given day, use the Arizona Department of Transportation resources: Visit az511.gov or call 511. These resources are there to help prepare you in advance for possible delays, and can also inform you of traffic incidents and weather closures.
Tip #2: Be alert and aware
It’s always important to stay alert when driving, whether or not you encounter road work. When driving through a work zone, you’ll need to pay attention to and process more information than when driving along work-free roadways. Watch for revised speed limits, changes to traffic patterns and lane restrictions, construction zone signs and other markers (such as cones or barrels), flaggers or traffic control workers, and the movements of other vehicles.
Being alert can help you avoid traffic violations and accidents. According to the Federal Highway Administration, driver and passenger fatalities are the most frequent fatalities in work zone crashes. Avoid distractions to keep you and your precious cargo safe.
Tip #3: Follow the speed limit and other posted signs
Speed is a contributing factor in nearly 29% of fatal work zone crashes, according to the Federal Highway Administration, and the majority of fatal work zone crashes occurred on roads with speed limits greater than 50 miles per hour.
Even if you don’t see highway workers present, it’s essential for your safety and the safety of others that you slow down and obey the speed limits and other signs posted in construction zones. Not to mention, tickets for speeding in a work zone will cost you.
Tip #4: Give other vehicles the space they need
You should always increase your following distance — no tailgating — when driving in a work zone so you can be prepared for sudden stops in traffic. The most common and preventable type of accident in construction zones are rear-end crashes. In 2017, 25% of fatal work zone crashes involved rear-end collisions.
If you need to merge, do so safely, courteously, and as early as possible prior to the lane closure, so you can avoid cutting off other drivers. Always follow the directions of those directing traffic.
Don’t cut off large vehicles, semi trucks or tractor-trailers, which require 50% more stopping distance.
For more safe driving tips, or to learn about our driver’s education opportunities, contact us.