The one sight guaranteed to strike irritation into the heart of every driver in the country is a vision of the dreaded orange cones that signify road construction. We should all feel fortunate that we live in a country where roadways are maintained. We the People are given the opportunity to see our tax dollars at work, up close and personal, as we creep through the construction zone.
Traveling through a construction zone is a hassle—we can all agree on that. But it can also be a major accident waiting to happen if we aren’t paying attention and the road crews aren’t doing the same. The employees working on the road crew have specific safety guidelines they are expected to follow. The driving public also has a set of safety protocols we should follow. Unfortunately, too many of us are not aware of what it takes to make sure everyone—drivers and workers—makes it out of construction zones alive and well.
Keeping It Safe
The most important thing each of us can do to keep it safe in a construction zone is to remain calm, breathe, and realize that the situation won’t last. Keep your eyes open for the orange diamonds. There will be several of these signs along the highway to give you a head’s up when you’re approaching a construction zone. When you see the orange, be prepared to reduce your speed. Be alert for workers, machinery, and other obstacles that you may encounter.
As an incentive to stay safe, many states have double fines in place in most work zones. If you get a traffic ticket within a work zone, you’re going to pay double the amount for the already expensive citation. So, reduce your speed and follow all traffic regulations. In most construction zones the speed limit is decreased to 55 miles per hour. It may be much lower when people are working the road.
Go with the Flow
The orange barrels and cones are not for decoration; they are there to direct the flow of traffic through the work zone. They aren’t there to tempt you to run over them. You should never steer into them or run over them for fun. If you intentionally make contact with construction cones or barrels, you may be responsible for the damage to your vehicle.
There will probably be flaggers on-site to direct traffic, even stopping the flow when needed. The instructions of a flagger take precedence over any posted signals or signs. Make sure you keep your vehicle as far away from these workers as you can, and slow down!
Road construction requires the use of some heavy machinery. Dump trucks, asphalt sprayers, excavators, and rollers may all be found working on construction sites. This means you may encounter some or all of them. You may have to drive close to these machines but you’ll need to steer as far away from them as possible. If you have to follow them, follow at a safe distance and don’t tailgate.
A Rough Ride
If you’re driving on newly stripped roadways, you can expect a rough ride. There will be orange signs to warn you of dips in the roadway and major bumps. You may be directed to drive over some newly laid asphalt. If this occurs, you’ll probably hear the distinctive clinking noises of small pieces being slung underneath your fenders and sticking in your tires. You may find yourself directed to drive over unpaved sections or sections covered with large metal plates. These plates are there to reinforce bridges and overpasses while repairs take place.
You may encounter large metal barricades that signal a section of the road is completely closed. These barricades will usually have neon orange stripes with white reflective strips to warn drivers that there are closed sections or lanes. If you are required to turn around or reroute, do so without a display of anger or road rage.
Worth the Hassle
No one likes to get caught in a sea of orange cones. Construction zones are annoying—there’s no disputing that. They are one of the leading causes of slow traffic and delays in travel. They are also a hotbed for accidents, many resulting in personal injury and property loss.
Protect yourself, the loved ones you travel with, and the property you worked so hard to obtain by following the rules when passing through a construction zone. In the end, it will all be worth the hassle when you’re able to glide smoothly over a freshly paved, perfectly painted, updated roadway. So, relax and remain alert while you’re driving through those construction zones, and remember that it will all be worth it in the end.