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Last Modified: March 1, 2023

Safe Driving in Construction Zones

Published on March 23, 2015 • Last updated March 1, 2023 by Ken Christensen
Topics: Car Safety, Current Events

Orange construction cones on the road

With spring here, we are all enjoying warmer weather. It’s a great change from winter, whether that means enjoying the start of baseball season, getting out to the garden, or spending more time outside with friends and family.

Spring also brings the start of construction season.  Road construction can sometimes be a hassle. However, construction is necessary to make sure the roads we drive on are safe and secure. With more construction starting soon, it’s important that we do our part to make sure we’re keeping things safe too.  Construction can be dangerous for the drivers on the road as well as for the people fixing the road.  Here are some ways we can all help keep the roads safe.

Work Zone Week is Here

March 23-27 is National Work Zone Awareness Week, held annually to promote safety and awareness at the start of the construction season.  Though each state celebrates this week differently, the main goal is to reduce fatalities and injuries. In the past, ribbons and posters have helped promote this campaign that strives to teach everyone how to be safer on roads under construction. It’s important to remember that awareness in construction zones isn’t just for the work zone workers, but everyone else on the road too.

This year’s theme is ‘Expect the Unexpected’, which is the perfect mentality to take when driving, especially in work zones.  Expecting the unexpected keeps us aware and alert while we drive.  Since distracted or inattentive driving is the cause for most accidents, this will help keep us safe even as the roads we are familiar with are widened, repaved, or otherwise altered,

Dangers Found in Work Zones

Nationwide, nearly 600 people die and over 32,000 people are injured from car crashes in construction zones every year. Four out of every five people injured in these accidents are ordinary drivers like you and me (U.S. Department of Transportation).

Rear-end collisions are common in work zones, as is speeding. These are some of the reasons construction zones require you to slow down and pay attention while on the road.  This will not only keep you safe, but help you avoid expensive speeding tickets.  Most states, including Utah, will double your fine if you are caught speeding in a work zone.  Learning to ‘Expect the Unexpected’ can help keep everyone on the road safer and happier this construction season.

Safe Habits Save Lives

Did you know that it takes an extra 180 feet to come to a stop if you are driving 80 mph versus 60 mph?  That’s well over half the length of a football field. And that’s only if the road conditions are good and the driver is paying attention.  Imagine the damage that could happen within that distance, especially if the driver is distracted.

Safe driving habits can be a matter of life or death, and driving in a work zone requires extra precaution. First of all, pay attention to the road signs.  These signs can alert you to reduced speeds, lane changes, detours, or other changes to your normal route.  Here’s a list of some other things you can do to drive more safely:

  • Reduce your speed: Speeding is always dangerous, but especially in a work zone.  When driving 65 mph, it takes only 25 seconds to drive one more mile than when driving 45 mph.
  • Don’t tailgate:  Rear-end collisions are very common in work zones.  Normally, it’s suggested that you keep at least one car length between you and the next car.  Because there can be unexpected slowing and stopping in construction, try doubling that distance.
  • Stay alert: Driving distracted is never a good idea.  Avoid using your cell phone, changing radio stations, or any other activities that could keep you from focusing on the road.
  • Keep up with traffic flow: Work zones often require drivers to merge into other lanes.  Be courteous and keep up with the flow of traffic instead of barging into the new lane at the last minute.

Lastly, be sure to be patient and remain calm.  Checking ahead to see if there are delays will allow you to plan ahead, stay safe, and still make it to your destination on time.  Keeping these tips in mind can not only keep you safe, but everyone else on the road this construction season.

Photo via Flickr

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