This week marks National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week. Motorists across California and the entire country should do what they can to protect workers along the side of the road, as one ill-timed maneuver could lead to a potential tragedy. This attention to safety shouldn’t happen just this week, but all throughout the year. To help you protect relatively defenseless workers, please consider some safety tips from the California Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Encouraging safety starts with simply obeying the types of laws you should be heeding anyway. Speed limits must be adhered to at all times. Often, a work zone will prompt a reduction in the speed limit, and if you’re used to traveling a route, it becomes easy to ignore the new directive. But such violations of the posted speeds can imperil yourself and others.
Another activity that has no place on the road, let alone in a work zone? Distracted driving. Not only should you put your phone away, but you should also refrain from such activities as eating and drinking, applying makeup, reading, or anything else that removes focus from the road. Construction zones require your full attention, and if you’re not ready for potential obstacles, a disaster might unfold.
Patience is the name of the game. Traffic could be congested in work zones, but that’s no reason to start driving aggressively. Leave plenty of space between yourself and other vehicles, and acknowledge whatever posted signage tells you to do. When you need to get over, get over. When you need to stop, stop. And don’t make a number of lane changes just to jockey for position in the work zone.
Flick on your headlights so that workers can see you, not just at night, but at any time during the day. When the sun does go down, increase your focus and drive even more cautiously than you would during the day.
One of the things you might do to make yourself aware of upcoming hazards is to follow the lead of commercial trucks. Drivers of such vehicles will likely be able to identify slowdown areas or hazards before you because of their high vantage point, and if you see such trucks hitting the brakes, it should act as a sign that you need to do the same.
Finally, understand that perhaps the best way to mitigate the attendant risks of work zones is to avoid such areas entirely. If you know that construction will be going on along a route you’re used to taking, simply drive via another path.