It can be frustrating to run into road construction or roadside work, delaying your morning or evening commute. After all, you may have a big day ahead of you, or you may have just survived the longest workday of your life and are ready to be home.
Tensions can run high while we drive. Some studies have shown links between our emotions and our driving performance. Dealing with delays can increase the stress you feel behind the wheel.
However, it's essential to show extra caution whenever you travel through a work zone. Too many accidents, injuries and deaths have resulted from poor driving.
The Dangers of the Work Zone
Labor that occurs near or on the road remains some of the most dangerous work in the United States. According to the National Workzone Safety Information Clearing House, an organization developed to bring awareness to the dangers of work zone safety, in 2020, there were:
- An estimated 102,000 work zone crashes
- An estimated 44,000 work zone injuries
- A total of 857 work zone fatalities
Vehicle crashes are the highest cause of workplace fatalities, especially for pedestrian workers who must operate on or near the road. In many instances, these accidents resulted from nothing more than careless driving.
The Dangers of Being a Lineworker
One potential victim of work zone accidents is your local electric lineworker. While you may not immediately link a utility worker to a work zone on the road, many distribution lines run parallel to the street. Lineworkers must park on or near the road to repair lines after an outage is reported.
We rely on lineworkers to help restore power after major storms or accidents that damage power lines and utility poles. They are the boots on the ground that help keep the lights on in adverse conditions.
Outside of inherent dangers like electrocution, burning or falling, a lineworker can also be harmed by a careless driver. Whether the lineworker is assessing equipment from the ground or is in a utility truck lift making repairs, inattention from a driver can quickly cause a traumatic injury or fatality.
Work Zone Safety- 7 Tips to Help Avoid Disaster
Tip #1: Pay Attention and Limit Distractions
Every driver should pay attention whenever they get behind the wheel. However, it's crucial to be vigilant when driving through a work zone. Most construction or roadside work requires traffic to be consolidated to fewer narrow lanes than usual to allow room for workers to operate.
Limiting distractions in your vehicle and focusing on the road ahead can help you avoid mistakes that can turn disastrous. According to the American Automobile Association, one in ten fatal car crashes involves distraction. When you see a work zone coming up, give your full attention to the road ahead.
Tip #2: Follow Posted Signs
Work zones can quickly become confusing. Pylons and barriers can overwhelm drivers as they navigate the lane closures, merges and detours. Work zones use signage to limit confusion and give instruction. Look for signs to ensure you stay in the correct lane and stay within the speed limit.
Tip #3: Slow Down
Major, long-term construction sites will most likely have a reduced speed limit; however, it's best to lower your speed when approaching any work zones. Slowing down your vehicle will allow you more time to react to other drivers and workers.
Tip #4: Merge into Lanes in Zipper Formation
If signs and pylons bring traffic into one lane, carefully enter the single lane. Don't hastily pass or prevent other drivers from merging in front of you. Once the merging begins, cars in the left and right lanes should take turns to enter the single lane. This formation will help reduce a bottleneck and will keep drivers safer.
Tip #5: Allow Space
Whenever you enter a work zone, it's essential to allow yourself more space between yourself and the car in front of you. Extra space will give you more leeway to maneuver around vehicles in an emergency.
Tip #6: Be Courteous to Other Drivers
Being courteous behind the wheel is something drivers should practice every time they take to the street. However, you need to show extra care when driving through a work zone. Respecting other drivers by allowing extra space, maintaining a safe speed and keeping your attention on the road can keep traffic flowing more efficiently and prevent accidents that could harm workers.
Tip #7: Remain Calm
Keeping your cool while driving through a work zone can help tie a bow on the rest of the tips. If you're willing to take a deep breath and consider the drivers around you and those working on the road, you are less likely to cause an accident. Remember, the workers causing the delay are trying to maintain the roads you use every day, power lines that transmit your energy or other essential infrastructure. Play it cool and play it safe to avoid work zone disaster.
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