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Construction Zone Safety: What to Do When Orange Signs Appear

May 18, 2012

a road sign with a detour arrowWarmer days ahead mean one major thing on Canadian roads: construction.  While the presence of workers on the roads, closed lanes and detours may be frustrating to drivers who are trying to reach a destination on time, remember that they are doing an important job and have a short window in the spring and summer months to get it done.  Caution in construction zones is vital for the safety of the workers as well as for drivers.

Slow Down When you See Orange

Orange constructions signs warning of work on the road ahead are your sign to reduce your speed.  There has been a major push in recent years to crack down on speeding in construction zones, and law enforcement will hand out hefty fines for these violations.  The result will be an increase on your insurance rates at the very least; while in the worst case someone could be injured or killed as a result of speeding or driving unsafely in construction zones.

If a reduced speed is posted specifically for the construction zone, be sure to follow that posted speed no matter what the regular speed limit is in that area.  If there is no posted speed, adhere to the regular limit, but slow down when you pass workers on the road.  Watch for construction equipment that may be on the move and again, reduce speed when passing it.  Workers may be nearby even if you can’t see them, or trucks and other vehicles could move without warning into your path.

Be Prepared for Traffic Changes

Construction ahead may mean that you will need to change lanes or take a detour, so be prepared and watch the signs on the side of the road.  When you see indications of a lane closure, change into the open lane right away.  Attempting to get past the line of cars by speeding up and cutting in at the last minute is frustrating for everyone else trying to get through the constructions zone and also dangerous.  Smooth merging into the open lane ensures that everyone will get through as quickly and as safely as possible.

Be prepared for detours and follow the signs as indicated.  If the construction is on a route you normally follow, take a look at a map before you leave the house to find an alternate route you can use during the time of the construction.  Fewer cars passing through the construction zone makes it easier for workers to get things done, and you won’t have a frustrating wait in traffic.

If there are flaggers posted to indicate where your car should travel, follow their instructions carefully.  Stop when you see the sign held up, and move cautiously when instructed that it is safe to do so.  Watch for hand gestures from the flagger indicating which part of the road is open for you to travel.  Pass the flagger slowly and carefully.

Staying Safe, Avoiding Tickets

When you finally come out of a construction zone, the instinct may be to speed up to make up time or simply out of frustration at having gone slowly for so long.  Be sure to watch your speed and don’t go faster than legally allowed.  With the emphasis on construction zone safety, law enforcement is keeping a watchful eye on these areas, and you could find yourself quickly pulled over and facing a ticket.

It’s especially important in construction zones on the highway to stick to safety practices.  Because the rate of speed at which most vehicles are travelling is higher than on city streets, the danger to workers is much higher.  Reduce speed in any highway construction zone, whether or not you see workers or there are any reduced speed signs posted.  Remember that if you get a ticket for speeding in a construction zone you will face fines even higher than the usual because you have endangered the lives of construction crews.  This will also impact your insurance rates.

Construction zones are hard to avoid during the warm months of the year, and it can sometimes feel like they are everywhere you go.  Drive carefully and with respect for the workers who are out making sure drivers have safe roads in a good state of repair to drive on all through the year.