Over the last two decades, the amount of regular road construction has risen by 40%, corresponding to an increase in federal funds for construction projects. Road construction projects are necessary and beneficial upon their eventual completion. Unfortunately, however, more construction has also contributed to an upsurge in accidents. Compared to 1997, the incidence of fatal construction zone crashes has escalated by 26%. Construction zone accidents have also resulted in approximately 40,000 injuries.
Sometimes it is possible to avoid construction areas altogether by taking a detour. However, this is not always practical. Sooner or later, every driver will have to navigate a construction zone. Fortunately, however, there are tips you can follow to minimize your chances of a construction zone accident.
1. Follow the Signs
A construction zone frequently has a queue warning system in place to advise you of slowed or stopped traffic in work areas. Pay attention to these signs and do what they say. The same principle applies to flaggers on the road crew giving instructions.
2. Maintain a Safe Distance
The driver in front of you may need to slow down or stop for a hazard that you can’t see, such as a construction worker or piece of equipment suddenly obstructing the path of travel. One of the most common types of crashes to occur in a construction zone is a rear-end collision. When you avoid tailgating the driver behind you, you help to reduce the risk of these types of crashes occurring by giving yourself adequate time to stop if required.
3. Observe the Speed Limit
Fines for exceeding the speed limit in a construction zone are often double the standard amount, and with good reason. One of the primary causes of construction zone worker fatalities and injuries is speeding traffic. Excess speed magnifies the dangers already present in construction zones. Maintaining the posted speed limit reduces the risk of injuries and fatalities even if an accident does occur.
4. Minimize Distractions
Distracted driving is dangerous under any circumstances, but in a construction zone it can be deadly. It should go without saying that you should avoid any use of your cell phone in a construction zone, but you should also refrain from engaging in conversation with your passengers or listening to the radio. This may seem extreme, but it helps you to focus entirely on the task of navigating the construction zone. Conversation and music can resume once you are back on the open road.
Road construction can be a nuisance, but it is only a temporary situation. A little patience and self-discipline can help you to endure it safely and successfully.