Summer is often referred to as construction season, and it can seem like work zones pop up around every corner. Driving in construction zones can lead to delays and be frustrating—especially when you are striving to make an on-time delivery. However, it’s extremely important to focus on the safe operation of the equipment, on your safety and the safety of those around you. Check out our safety tips to keep in mind when driving in a construction zone this summer!
1. Slow down and pay attention to the signs
Eye lead time is critical as a commercial driver. Knowing what your future holds allows you to make adjustments earlier rather than later. Stay on heightened alert as you approach cone zones, slow down and comply with the signs (signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs) as soon as possible. If you see a sign to change lanes, do it as soon as you are able instead of waiting until the last minute and causing a traffic jam (those people are the worst, amiright?).
2. Obey the speed limit
A best practice as a commercial driver is to make safe adjustments to current road conditions and restrictions. Stay alert! Look for reduced speed limits, narrow and shifting driving lanes, and always leave ample following distance. Traveling too fast puts the construction workers at risk and reduces your time to react to any given situation.
3. Comply with directions given by flaggers
Flaggers keep motorists and road workers safe during temporary roadwork so be sure to provide them the courtesy and respect they deserve. Remember, a flagger has the same authority as a regulatory sign, so you could be cited for disobeying their instructions.
4. Don’t follow too closely
The most common work zone crash is a rear-end collision due to inadequate following distance. Leave the appropriate amount of braking distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to allow the appropriate time to stop if needed.
5. Expect delays and if possible, plan ahead
Although trip planning takes more time initially, in the long run, it will make you a safer and more efficient driver. As you know, road construction delays can be frustrating and can potentially pose a risk for on-time delivery. So, it is important to plan ahead by talking to your dispatch team before leaving to identify alternate routes if possible. If you do end up in a construction zone, make sure to be patient. You never want to rush through a construction zone and put yourself and those around you at risk.
6. Watch out for workers and other potential hazards
Keep your circle of awareness by checking your mirrors often. Slow down and keep your distance from the vehicle in front of you. Always be aware of construction workers, give them space. You want to make sure the construction zone is safe for them and that you are not putting them in needless danger.
7. Focus on the road and pay attention to your surroundings
It’s human nature to wonder what’s happening in the construction zone and get distracted by trying to figure it out, but remember, distractions can be deadly. Stay focused on what’s going on around you, as conditions can change quickly.
8. Beware of debris
There’s a lot going on in construction zones, and inevitably, wood, metal or concrete debris might enter your path. Do your best to be overly cautious and aware of debris in the road—the last thing you want to deal with is a punctured tire and/or damage to your equipment.
9. Limit distractions
Distractions can be deadly. As you enter a construction zone, try and limit your distracting such as conversations, phone calls, snacks or music so you can focus on the extra activity and continue to keep your circle of awareness.
When driving in a construction zone in the summer, it’s important that you are paying attention to the road in front of you and avoiding distractions to keep yourself and those around you safe. Be sure to use these safe driving tips and be safe out there!