Construction work is a necessary part of improving roads and making them safer; we see road work all the time, especially during the months between April and October. As drivers, it’s easy to become so accustomed to their presence that we don’t really pay attention. Our complacency, however, is a deadly threat to not only crew workers, but to ourselves and other motorists.
A woman and DOT worker were taken to the hospital with minor injuries after the woman swerved and crashed into a parked DOT construction truck. State Police said the truck had been parked in the right lane of the highway as crews worked to fill pot holes. The DOT worker was getting into the truck at the time of the incident. As he ran toward the front of the truck, away from the point of impact, he was hit by flying debris. The woman had to be extricated from her vehicle; she suffered a minor head laceration. At the time of the incident, four DOT crash trucks were evenly spaced behind the work crews with flashing arrows and signs telling drivers the right lane was closed.
Nationally, 4 of 5 work zone fatalities are drivers and their passengers, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation. Safety begins before you go. Know where road work is happening and how it can affect your trip by learning which lanes are closed, the affected direction, and how long the project is anticipated to last.
Reducing the risks begins with an increased awareness of the dangers in any work zone. These include, but are not limited to:
- Obstructed view
- Narrow lanes
- Confusing, improper or lack of signage
- Hazards on or next to the road
- Pavement drop-off or inadequate pavement markings
Here are some tips to safely travel through construction zones.
- Be alert to signs posted ahead of a work zone and warning of construction ahead. Lanes may narrow from three to two — and you may be in the closing lane.
- Be aware of detours.
- Obey flaggers.
- Be aware of construction zone speed limits. Slow down when entering all construction sites, regardless whether there is or is not sign posted. Whether signs are posted or not, speed in construction sites on highways should be reduced to 45mph.
- Allow adequate stopping distance and avoid passing on the shoulder.
- Avoid passing on the shoulder or using the medians for any reason.
- Stay alert and avoid distractions when approaching a construction zone. Do not text, talk on the phone, change the radio, or stare at the road work being done.
- Avoid tailgating. Keep a safe following distance and pay attention to the brake lights of the vehicle ahead.
- Be mindful of construction workers on duty. Keep a safe distance from workers, barrels, machines, etc.
- Don’t be a gawker. Avoid looking at active construction.
- Be mindful that construction zones constantly change. Be attentive to the changes; don’t rely on memory.
- Plan ahead. Check online or other resources for information about where construction work is occurring. You may decide to change routes or leave earlier.
Lawsuit Financial urges everyone to practice safe driving habits and act responsibly behind the wheel. With concentration, caution, and common sense, we increase our chances of safely reaching our destination. We also reduce the risks of heavy fines or tickets for careless and reckless driving.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.