During the late spring and summer, an increased amount of highway construction and repair work is observed on many roads in the United States as the weather helps to plan, execute and complete the works. The increase in travel is also expected during this season.
This year we must add to the equation the economic reopening of the states and the lifting of the restrictions that were taken to contain the proliferation of the pandemic. For this reason, it is expected that there will be a greater number of vehicles circulating on the roads.
Unfortunately, these factors contribute to the increase in accidents, especially in work zones. The reasons for this increase are due to several factors, including impatience of drivers due to congestion and delays, construction crews moving on and off the roads, lane closures, detours, and drivers being distracted because they are observing construction activities.
Now we must add that many people, due to the pandemic, stopped driving their vehicles and, according to what they say, feel that they lost their dexterity and confidence when driving, which is why we ask you to be alert now much more than ever.
Statistics to keep in mind:
• Approximately 700 people die in accidents in work zones each year.
• Four out of every five people killed are drivers, not highway workers.
• Large trucks are involved in fewer accidents within work zones than other vehicles, but their share of fatal accidents is almost twice that of passenger-carrying vehicles.
• 75% of accidents in the work zone occur during the day.
• 42% of accidents in the work zone are due to one vehicle hitting the rear of another vehicle.
• Inattention while driving and following another vehicle too closely are the major contributors to increasing the number of fatal accidents.
Citations and Fines:
• 33 states double the fine for speeding (or committing other traffic violations) in construction zones.
• Some states have higher penalties for repeat offenses in work zones.
• A citation issued for following a vehicle too closely while operating a commercial vehicle is considered a “serious violation.” Two serious CDL (commercial driver license) violations within a three-year period will result in the disqualification from your CDL for 60 days.
Driving in construction zones creates additional challenges for a professional truck driver. There are several things you can do to increase safety when driving through a construction zone such as the ones listed below:
• Plan Ahead and look for alternative routes: This website provides access to highway closures nationwide: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/trafficinfo/.
• Look for information signs in advance: detour signs, lane closures, uneven pavement, flaggers, etc.
• Reduce speed and increase following distance: This will provide additional time for you to identify potential hazards and react. Remember, 42% of construction accidents are rear-end collisions.
• Turn off cruise control: This will allow you to better control your vehicle.
• Change into the correct lane before lanes close: Never wait until the line closes to do so.
• Be very careful around construction vehicles: They can slow down or change lanes unexpectedly. Be careful and do not to follow too closely an off-road construction vehicle.
• Don`t change lanes in a construction zone unless specifically instructed to do so: Changing lanes creates additional hazards in an already dangerous environment.
• Always expect something unexpected to happen: Other drivers confused by lane detours, construction crews operating close to the traffic lane, trucks, and moving equipment on and off the roads are some of the hazards in construction zones.
• Be patient: Remember that construction zone crews are there to improve the road for you.
We hope with this article to make a contribution to road safety and accident prevention. May God bless you and may health continue to accompany you.