Across the nation, nearly 1,100 people die and more than 40,000 people are injured each year as a result of motor vehicle crashes in work zones, according to the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA). SHA offers these tips for driving safely in work zones:
- Slow down. Speeding and aggressive driving are major contributors to work zone crashes.
- Expect the unexpected. Normal speed limits are often reduced, traffic lanes are often changed, and people are often working on or near the road.
- Don't tailgate. Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you (use the 3-second following rule). The most common crash in a highway work zone is the rear-end collision.
- Obey road crew flaggers. The flagger knows what is best for moving traffic safely through the work zone. A flagger has the same authority as a regulatory sign, so you can be cited for disobeying his or her directions.
- Keep a safe distance between you and the construction workers and their equipment.
- Pay attention to the signs. The warning signs are there to help you and other drivers move safely through the work zone. Observe the posted signs until you see the one that says you've left the work zone.
- Stay alert and minimize distractions. Dedicate your full attention to the roadway, avoid changing radio stations, and do not use your cell phone while driving.
- Schedule enough time to drive safely to and from your destination. Check radio, TV or online for traffic information before you leave. Expect delays when road-work is ongoing, and leave early so you can reach your destination safely and on time.
- Keep up with the flow of traffic. Motorists can help maintain the traffic flow and posted speeds by merging as soon as possible. Don't drive right up to the lane closure and then try to cut in line.
- Be patient and stay calm. Work zones aren't in place to inconvenience you. Remember that the work zone crews are working to improve road conditions for you and make your future drive time safer and easier.
For more information on work zone safety, go to: http://www.safezones.maryland.gov/workzonesafety.html or http://www.marylandroads.com/OC/Workzone.pdf
Today's safe driving tips brought to you by Chesapeake Employers Insurance.