Risky Behaviors in Work Zones
Since Driver’s Education, the importance of safe driving has been pounded into everyone’s head. We’ve all seen the commercials about the dangers of speeding, texting while driving, and operating a vehicle under the influence. But unfortunately, dangerous driving is still a common sight out on the road.
Dangerous driving becomes even riskier in work zones. Work zones are constantly changing situations where sections of road may be different than you’re used to. Failure to pay attention in these situations can be fatal. The following four behaviors create the biggest hazard to work zone safety.
We’ve seen the public service announcements and clicked our tongue at other drivers who do it-- we all know texting while driving is dangerous. But distracted driving isn’t just texting. It includes changing the radio station, doing your hair or makeup, talking on the phone, or looking at your GPS. Unfortunately, the majority of people still do many of these activities behind the wheel.
The reality is distracted driving killed 2,841 people in 2018 alone. 1730 of these were drivers, the rest were passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists.
The average time it takes to send a text is 5 seconds. If your car is going 55 mph on the highway, that equals the length of a football field. As cars have become more high-tech there’s more to distract us while driving, from Bluetooth connections to in-car navigation systems, and television and movie players.
Distracted driving in work zones is even more dangerous. Work zones are constantly changing situations which require you to pay attention. If you’re distracted and miss a flagger's instructions, you could cause a collision, hit a pedestrian, or even go into the construction zone itself.
Speed drops in work zones, but many drivers don’t slow down. Most people believe that going just five or ten over the speed limit isn’t a big deal, but it can make a life or death difference for those in work zones. Unexpected roadway changes in work zones combined with speeding can make for a dangerous combination.
Drivers need to be able to react quickly, whether that’s to stop or move out of the way of a construction vehicle. Going too fast reduces your ability to stop on a dime. For example, a car going 30 mph takes 75 feet to come to a complete stop. A car going 40 mph (just ten over) takes a total of 118 feet to stop. This significantly increases your stopping distance and greatly increases your probability of being in a collision. It’s important for work zone safety to follow the posted speed limit.
You would never drive drunk, but have you ever driven tired? This is a very common risky behavior among adult drivers with 1 in 25 admitting to having fallen asleep at the wheel.
Drowsy driving is just as bad as drunk driving. It leads to poor motor control, slow reaction time, and an inability to focus. Drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes in 2013 and up to 6,000 fatalities.
Just as with other risky driving behaviors, the dangers increase in work zones. A driver asleep at the wheel could crash not just into a road sign, but into an active work site filled with unprotected workers. Drowsy drivers are more likely to not follow flagger directions due to a reduced ability to focus. Falling asleep at the wheel in a work zone means you could rear end the car in front of you as traffic is more likely to be stopped.
Work zone safety requires drivers to pay attention, and drowsy drivers can’t.
Giving In to Frustration
Work zones mean an increase in traffic. Roads become more crowded as highways narrow, and in certain situations traffic may be reduced to one way altogether. Situations like these can be extremely frustrating, especially when you need to be somewhere on time. Unfortunately, frustrated drivers often demonstrate the riskiest behaviors in work zones.
This can include failing to obey flagger instructions, tailgating other drivers and even yelling aggressively. One frustrated driver can create a chain reaction that leads to shouting matches and road rage.
Remember that flaggers are doing their best to reduce frustration, but also to keep pedestrians, drivers, cyclists, and construction workers safe. Traffic is always stopped for a reason-- whether that is to allow for moving large construction equipment or to allow pedestrians to move through the area safely.
Failing to Consider Weather Conditions
Weather conditions can play a large role in work zone safety. Driving as you would normally becomes unsafe in adverse road conditions. Even a light rain can reduce visibility and turn roadways slippery. Reduced visibility is dangerous anywhere, but can especially impact work zones.
For the most part, construction is halted when there are adverse conditions, but on the rare occasion that a sudden storm does crop up, remember to take the following precautions when driving, and especially in work zones.
Turn on headlights
Remember: “wipers on, headlights on”
Avoid hydroplaning by turning off cruise control
Increase the distance between yourself and other vehicles
Safe Work Zones Rely on You
At Directional Traffic we know that the safest work zones rely on the best behavior of flaggers, workers, and drivers. When you choose to operate a vehicle in an unsafe manner through a work zone, you’re putting lives at risk.
If you need traffic control solutions that prioritize safety above all else, contact Directional Traffic today.