Directional Traffic: Keeping Our Employees Safe
Working as a certified flagger can be a fun and enjoyable job. You get to work outdoors, enjoy changing scenery, and coordinate with an excellent team. Unfortunately, it can also be dangerous.
According to the CDC, “the number of fatal work-related injuries at road construction sites averages 123 per year.” The majority of these injuries are due to driver errors, such as distracted driving, drunk driving, and plain old mistakes.
But there are ways to reduce these risks and ensure everyone goes home safe at the end of the day. At Directional Traffic, we make sure that our team members prioritize safety, their own and the community’s, above all else.
Poor Traffic Management Plan
The traffic management plan is developed by senior team members and coordinates everything that happens in a work zone. From traffic diversions to what equipment is needed, a good traffic management plan optimizes safety and efficiency.
A poor traffic management plan can cause serious accidents. For example, a confusing sign can cause motorists to turn the wrong way and head into the work zone instead of away from it. A poorly-placed certified flagger may be just behind a curve in the road, surprising drivers and creating the right conditions for a high-risk collision.
The best traffic management plans take into account the safety of all community members and are tailored to each location. At Directional Traffic, we teach our flaggers to analyze each community prior to forming the plan. For example, if there’s a high volume of cyclists, then we need to make sure their safety is accounted for and we are not forcing them to bike alongside fast-moving cars. We also ensure that our employees get the training they need to keep themselves safe. Our in-house ATSSA Certified Instructors provide plenty of learning opportunities for team members.
The Pennsylvania mountains are famous for foggy mornings. Our rolling countryside is full of deer who are especially active in the fog, creating dangerous low visibility conditions. Many drivers are hesitant to drive in the fog, and for good reason. Imagine coming up to a work zone that seems to appear out of nowhere, thanks to the fog. It’s easy for a driver to be going just a bit too fast to stop in time to follow the certified flagger’s directions.
Low visibility is an inherent hazard of working on the road. Whether it’s due to fog, rain, or snow reduced visibility can cause serious accidents. At Directional Traffic, we require all of our traffic flaggers to wear high-visibility apparel, including ANSI Class 3 gear. With the right equipment, our employees stand out no matter the weather. However, if conditions are too dangerous for road work, then we won’t send our flaggers out into harm's way.
Distracted driving seems to be the safety issue of the day. Entire organizations, like Zero Deaths Maryland, are devoted to educating drivers about the dangers of cell phone use on the road. Unfortunately, the temptation is still too strong for many drivers on Pennsylvania’s roadways. In 2018, distracted driving claimed the lives of almost 3000 people. And that number doesn’t include the number of lives lost to simple, everyday mistakes, like forgetting to use a turn signal or leaning a little too heavy on the gas.
Driver error in work zones is particularly dangerous. With certified flaggers and construction workers so close to the cars, a single mistake can lead to a collision. Luckily, there are a few ways we can encourage drivers to pay attention when approaching a work zone. Placing additional signage some distance ahead of the work zone warns drivers what’s coming up and encourages them to pay attention. Speeding can be reduced by the use of radar that tells drivers how fast they’re going.
At Directional Traffic, we also work hand in hand with local police as needed. Law enforcement will sit at the beginning of the work zone to add visibility and discourage distracted driving.
The traffic control industry is moving into the future with smart equipment. More and more we see smart message boards that alert drivers to current traffic conditions and warn of slowdowns ahead. Radar-equipped work zones give out tickets automatically and strongly encourage drivers to slow down.
One of the latest developments in traffic flagging specifically, is the release of Automated Flagger Assistance Devices, or AFADs. These tall poles have a traffic light, arm, and flag to warn drivers to slow down and prevent them from moving forward, similar to a bar at a railroad crossing. Portable and easy to set up, AFADs keep flaggers safe by keeping them out of the path of oncoming cars. If a driver is not paying attention and fails to follow directions, the AFAD is in harm's way, not a certified flagger.
Safety Comes First
There’s a reason our mission is to safely provide reliable and affordable traffic control. We believe that one of our top priorities is to keep construction workers, community members, and our employees safe in every work zone. That’s why we ensure our work zones have the best traffic management plans, the latest equipment, and strongly encourage drivers to stay alert and pay attention.
Nothing is more important than the safety of team members and the communities we serve. If you want to work as a certified flagger for a team of dedicated people, contact us today. We just might have what you’re looking for.