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Driving in Construction Zones – Follow the Signs to Safety

Each year hundreds of American construction workers are killed in traffic accidents while they are on the job.  So many have been killed that a special work zone safety awareness week has been created.  A mobile memorial containing the names of people killed in construction work zones was unveiled in Washington, D.C. in April 2002 and every year since has been on display in various states during the awareness week.

However, it is not just construction workers who have been maimed or killed.  In 2002, 1,181 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in work zones and more than 52,000 people were injured.  According to transportation safety officials, four out of five work zone fatalities are drivers and passengers.

The good news is that after years of steadily increasing numbers of accidents and fatalities in construction zones, public awareness is increasing and the numbers are beginning to drop.  In 2003, for the first time in more than five years, the number of fatalities decreased from the previous year to 1,082 deaths.

If you want to avoid becoming a construction zone statistic here are a few tips.  First of all obey all signs, especially the ones advising you to slow down.  Always stay within the posted speed limits.  Always follow the flag person’s direction.  They are your guides to help you navigate safely through the construction zone. 

Secondly, stay alert and watch for moving workers and equipment. Do not tailgate the car in front of you or try to pass a slower moving vehicle.  Ensure that there is a safe distance between your vehicle, and everything else.  Be prepared to stop at any moment and with little notice.

Thirdly, take your time.   If you are traveling through a construction work zone, plan ahead, you may be a little delayed.  But if it’s unexpected, then just relax and go with the flow.

Finally, pay attention.  Now may not be the best time to make phone calls or eat lunch.  You will need all your faculties to watch the road conditions for mud, gravel, rough surfaces, potholes or craters.  Watch out for merging traffic, especially when traffic is reducing to fewer lanes.  When taking detours through residential areas, be very cautious and watch out for children.

If you follow these easy tips and all signs and directions, you should be able to drive safely through any construction zone. Take your time and arrive alive.