NATIONAL WORK ZONE AWARENESS WEEK (NWZAW) is held but once a year, usually in early April. For those of us who build and maintain roads, NWZAW really is every week — or at least the weeks we’re out at the construction site with hard hats, brightly colored and reflective safety vests, and rubber traffic cones and barrels.
(As we write this, colleagues with another company, working for the Florida Department of Transportation, are preparing to make improvements to busy U.S. Highway 17 through the heart of Winter Haven this coming fall. Because U.S. 17 through the city is so busy during normal business hours, it’s very likely that much of the construction work will take place at night under artificial lights.)
What are some of the things that you, a member of the motoring public, can do to help keep construction zones safe and free of crashes? (Drivers, not construction workers, are the most frequent fatality in work-zone crashes.) Safety tips for the driver, as presented by the Federal Highway Administration (U.S. Department of Transportation) include:
• Staying alert and minimizing distractions, such as changing the radio station, phoning and texting, and eating.
• Keeping your headlights on.
• Paying attention to the road, watching traffic around you, and being prepared to react suddenly.
• Merging into the proper lane and doing it well before the lane you’re in closes.
• Following other vehicles at a safe distance.
• Obeying the posted speed limit, and being prepared to slow down further if conditions indicate the need.
• Changing lanes safely and only when traffic conditions permit.
• Following instructions from flaggers.
• Expecting the unexpected, such vehicles stopping just ahead of you or work vehicles entering your lane without warning.
• Practicing patience.
Source: “Work Zone Safety for Drivers” by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration (https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/resources/fhwasa03012.pdf)