Orange cones and signs often mean slowing and delays, and though they can seem like a nuisance, they are there for a reason. Safety zones are more dangerous than other driving zones and therefore, require more attention than your average stretch of road. We’ve compiled some safety tips for driving in work or safety zones.
6 Tips for Driving in Construction or Safety Zones
Safety zones, also called work zones, provide more obstacles and danger, and therefore are notorious for traffic accidents. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in the last 5 years there have been 4,400 safety zone traffic fatalities and 200,000 injuries. To reduce accidents and keep you and your load safe, follow these safety tips:
1. Look for orange signs, cones, lights, and other indications you are in a traffic safety zone and reduce speed. With any safety zone indication, you should immediately reduce your speed and start following work zone safety tips. On many U.S. interstates, the speed limit will reduce to 55 miles an hour when workers are not present. When workers are present, the speed limit will likely be even lower.
2. Leave extra space between you and other vehicles in a work zone. Don’t tailgate. Keep in mind that stopping distance for vehicles going 50 mph increases with road conditions and vehicle size. For instance, while it may take 300 feet to stop a vehicle on dry pavement, it takes 400 feet when the pavement is wet and 1250 feet when the road is icy. Keep in mind, an 80,000-pound tractor trailer needs almost 50 percent more stopping distance than a regular vehicle.
3. Pay extra attention to roads, signs and vehicles and avoid distractions such as changing the radio, talking on a cell phone or eating. It’s important that you don’t miss speed limit signs or other warning signs in a work zone. Be more attentive of your surroundings and watch for brake lights, workers, or work vehicles entering your lane without warning.
4. Merge well before reaching the lane closure. Don’t wait until the last minute to try and make your lane change. Change lanes only when markings or cones on the road indicate, and traffic permits. Be aware that traffic patterns can change daily and watch for signs that indicate a lane closure is coming up. Do not run over cones as they are there for a reason and can damage your vehicle or other vehicles near you.
5. Obey flaggers. Flaggers are just as important as warning signs and have the same authority. Follow his/her directions.
6. Expect the unexpected. Work zones can have unexpected obstacles. A work truck may suddenly back out in front of you or someone in front of you may need to brake immediately from their own obstacle. Prepare for the unexpected by getting into the mentality that you may need to brake or merge without notice.
Know that if you violate any traffic laws within a safety zone, your fine can be doubled! There’s a good reason for this…safety, so make sure to follow all traffic signals, speeds and laws.
Driving defensively in safety zones may not seem like a big deal, but ultimately it can mean getting you and other vehicles to your destinations safely.
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Integrity Pilot Cars supplies pilot cars, overload permits and escorts for oversize loads including superloads, wide loads, High-poles and long loads. We have locations in Virginia Beach and Stuart, Virginia, and are licensed for nationwide loads. Integrity Pilot Cars can provide same day local city permits for all Hampton Roads Cities including Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News and Suffolk.
Call Integrity Pilot Cars for your oversize load needs (757) 618-4899.
Sources: dot.ny.gov, safety.fhwa.dot.gov, driving-tests.org
Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net by sscreations (work zone cones) and franky242 (asphalt truck in safety zone)