Pennsylvania residents often joke that there are only two seasons – winter and road construction. With the expanding size and scope of construction projects, every year they tend to encroach further and further into the winter months. Projects start earlier in the year and continue deeper into the winter.
No matter the weather conditions, there seems to always be some level of road or roadside construction in Pennsylvania. Drivers need to make cautiously driving through a work zone a year-round event. Here are five tips that might help you avoid a serious accident.
- Increase your follow distance. Often, the unknown is a driver’s greatest enemy. Following too closely not only prevents you from reacting appropriately to slowed or stopped traffic, but the size of the vehicle in front of you can prevent you from actually seeing danger ahead.
- Don’t assume workers aren’t present. Even though you can’t see the construction workers, it doesn’t mean none are working. They could be in trenches right next to you or up the road around the next curve. Just because you don’t see workers doesn’t mean you should ignore posted safety signs.
- Follow instructions from flaggers. Much like the previous point, you might not be aware of all the upcoming hazards on the road. The flaggers generally have a communication system and can signal drivers when to slow, stop or merge to prevent dangerous situations.
- Minimize your distractions. While this is generally good advice for all drivers all the time, driving through a construction zone can mean accordion-style traffic patterns as well as narrow lanes. Hanging up the phone, putting down the coffee mug and even turning off your sound system might help you concentrate on the primary task at hand.
- Merge promptly at lane closures. While the “zipper-merge” might be the statistically appropriate method, waiting until the last possible moment to merge can lead to accidents and heated emotions. As soon as you realize your lane is ending, you should look to move over.
No matter the size of the road construction project, it is wise to follow the speed limit and be aware of your surroundings. Lane closures, lane shifts, pattern changes, pedestrian workers and construction vehicles can all add up to a hazardous drive.