2017-03-17 / Viewpoint

Spacing is critical when driving in construction zones


Spring and summer months promise construction zones along America’s roads and highways and the CSRA is no different. As many of you are aware, we have a lot of construction occurring, both on and off post, including major highways, such as I-20. While beneficial, roadway construction can be inconvenient and quite dangerous unless drivers remember a few basic guidelines. Below are some tips to help ensure safe driving through those road construction zones:

In any work zone along any road, major or minor, expect the unexpected. Normal speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be changed, and people and vehicles may be working on or near the road. Be alert! Pay attention to the signs.

In addition to other warnings, a “flagger ahead” warning sign may be posted in the work zone. When you see this, stay alert and be prepared to obey the flagger’s directions.

Stay calm. Work zones aren’t there to personally inconvenience you. They’re necessary to improve the roads for everyone.

You may see flashing arrow panels or “lane closed ahead” signs. Merge as soon as possible. Don’t speed up to the lane closure, then try to force your way in - you can help maintain traffic flow and posted speeds by moving to the appropriate lane at first notice of an approaching work zone.

Slow down when you see the signs. A car traveling 60 MPH travels 88 feet per second. If you’re going 60 m.p.h., and you pass a sign that states, “Road Work 1,500 feet,” you’ll be in that work zone in 17 seconds.

The most common accident in a highway work zone is the rear-end collision, so remember to leave two seconds of braking distance between you and the car in front of you. The amount of space required to provide two seconds of stopping time will increase the faster you’re driving.

Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and traffic barriers, trucks, construction equipment and workers. Just like you, highway workers want to return home safely after each day’s work.

Some work zones – such as line painting, road patching and mowing are mobile, moving down the road as the work is finished. Just because you don’t see the workers immediately after you see the warning signs doesn’t mean they’re not out there. Observe the posted signs until you see the one that states you’ve left the work zone.

Highway agencies use many different and varying ways to inform motorists about the location and duration of major work zones. Often, the agencies will suggest a detour to help you avoid the work zone entirely. Plan ahead, and try an alternate route.

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