It never fails. No matter what time of year, there is always road work to be done. As drivers, we see this as a huge temporary inconvenience as we have to wait for the lead vehicle to direct us where to drive, or drive our car much slower than normal for long periods of time when we’re rushing from one place to the next. And, what about the added conditions of ice, snow or rain during the construction period? This means inconvenience times ten. While we can generally appreciate the newer safer road once the work has been completed, it’s important to still pay attention in these areas while the road work is taking place.
Road workers have a dangerous job and encounter hazardous conditions every day. They know that they have to trust that every passerby is attentive and driving slowly; they also know that is not always the case. Construction signs and symbols are ignored all the time, particularly when it comes to variations in speed limits and stopping when asked. And, despite the bright vests worn by the road workers, drivers are still distracted by cell phones, texting, and blind spots in their cars and on the road. Are you the driver who drives quickly through a construction zone despite the signs to slow down or stop? Are you paying attention to the reflective vests, radio control actions and signage held up by the workers?
As drivers passing through these zones, we need to be aware of the hazards that can occur on a road construction jobsite if we’re the ones not paying attention. These hazards include misdirection of a construction vehicle, inability to stop a vehicle that is on an incline, contact of equipment with overhead power lines or other electrical objects, and lack of hearing the directions given by another coworker.
Generally, road workers work in pairs or in groups. Communication is the key to preventing any type of injury whether it’s among their group, or to the drivers who should be paying attention to the road. We have to realize that workers don’t always hear commands due to loud noises from machinery, the environment, or passing vehicles that don’t cooperate. Being mindful of the work conditions and the road workers will lead you to being a more cautious driver when you do see someone in a construction zone. A few mindful activities include the following:
- Pay attention to where you are directed. Workers don’t always have ample space to place cones and signage. They do their best to make use of directional signs on a narrow road or two-way street. The sign to “drive left” comes up quickly, and signs and stripes can be confusing to any driver. Drive slowly and pay attention to the directions.
- Look at the surroundings so you know what pieces of machinery are being used. If there is a crane, be aware of the proximity to power lines and electrical components. While the workers should not be directing you toward the crane, being aware of your surroundings means added safety.
- Look for other moving construction vehicles. While infrequent, sometimes a worker doesn’t hear the directions and the truck could continue to back into traffic. Knowing whether you are in the line of that driver is something you need to realize before it’s too late.
- Don’t break the cycle of the road work by rolling down your window and asking what they are doing, or asking for directions. Their job is all about timing and commands. Any break in the action could cause the scheduling to veer off course.
Road workers have several responsibilities: to keep themselves and their co-workers in a safe environment while doing the job, and to keep the drivers safe and traffic flowing within that construction zone. Paying attention when you encounter road workers might save you from being injured due to worker carelessness. Stay safe and alert when you’re in the zone of road construction.