With warmer weather here to stay, construction crews are already back to maintaining the roads. You already know to slow down and turn your headlights on in work zones, but these sites pose more potential dangers than most drivers realize. Here’s what to watch out for during road construction season.
The Components of a Work Zone
Did you know that the Federal Highway Administration has a set of guidelines for work zones? The setup is designed to have drivers travel through four separate areas, each of which is designed to keep workers safe and move traffic along. Knowing what these areas are can help you avoid potential accidents.
The first area is called advanced warning. This simply lets drivers know that construction is taking place down the road through signs or signals. The second is the transition area, which is where the normal flow of traffic changes. Lanes might shift or merge to accommodate the work being done.
The third is the activity area. That’s where the work is actually taking place as traffic passes through. Finally, there’s the termination area. This fourth part returns traffic to its normal flow. Understanding and following the signs or signals in each of these areas is the largest part of staying safe in road construction.
Causes of Work Zone Accidents
Most accidents happen when drivers ignore the safety protocols of construction, causing head-on collisions. However, there are still plenty of hazards around when everyone is driving carefully. So, it helps to know what to look out for.
One of the top causes is the heavy equipment necessary for construction. Backhoes, excavators, and dump trucks require proper training to handle correctly. An inexperienced handler can easily cause a wreck if any part of their machine enters the traffic lane.
Those machines also have more blind spots than a regular vehicle, which can make it difficult to see traffic. These vehicles weigh enough to crush a car and can cause serious injury or death. A catastrophic injury attorney is often needed when this is the cause of an accident.
Negligence is another contributing factor, but not just for drivers. The construction company might fail to properly set up the four components of a work zone, improperly manage the constricted flow of traffic, or improperly use their equipment. Cutting corners can almost always guarantee an accident.
The fact that traffic lanes merge or interchange is also a risk. Just like coming onto or off of the highway, the congestion makes an accident more likely. Drivers need to maintain a slow speed and never try to merge in front of another driver, while workers need to properly manage the flow of traffic.
Last, but not least, poor conditions make any road more dangerous. Rain is an issue but having to drive on uneven surfaces causes more accidents. This often happens when lanes are narrowed or one side of a road is raised, causing drivers to have to go over rumble strips or partially off road. Keeping these dangers in mind and exercising caution will help you stay safe during road construction season.