Highway work zones are a common sight on the road, and they play an important role in maintaining and improving our transportation infrastructure. However, navigating through these work zones can be challenging and potentially dangerous, even for safe drivers.
You can make travel safer with the right preparation. Knowing where work zones on your route start and when they change does a lot to help. While diligent preparation will not stop all accidents, reduced uncertainty on the road is a good way to keep your mind clear of distractions so you can focus on potential hazards.
1. Reduce speed
Work limit speed zones are lower than the normal speed restrictions on the freeway. These limits are set to ensure the safety of both drivers and construction workers. There were 3,626 crashes in or near work zones in New Jersey in 2021, and reducing that number is something every driver can help with.
2. Stay alert and focused
Distracted driving is a significant concern in work zones. Avoid using your phone, eating or engaging in any activity that diverts your attention from the road. Work zones change unpredictably as construction progresses, too, so being alert will help you notice quickly if the work zone is not what you expected when you researched the route.
3. Follow signage and signals
Road construction is often marked with a variety of signs and signals that provide important information to drivers. These signs may indicate lane closures, detours or reduced speed limits. If you miss that information, it can lead to issues beyond safety, like winding up at the wrong exit because you are not allowed to change lanes.
4. Maintain a safe following distance
Construction vehicles and equipment may need to slow down or stop suddenly, and having enough space between your vehicle and the one in front of you can prevent rear-end collisions. Adding an extra car length or two of stopping distance to your normal approach is a good idea, even at slower speeds.
Work zones are dynamic environments, and unexpected changes can occur at any moment. Even the best preparation can fail to anticipate route changes that happen in the middle of the day. Defensive driving and being ready for the unexpected can help you navigate work zones safely.