During the summer months, it’s common to see an increase in road construction. Not only can these zones be frustrating to encounter, as they may cause delays or reroutes, but they also present unique challenges and risks for truck drivers.
To help navigate tricky construction zones, we’ve outlined a few construction zone safety best practices you and your team can follow to keep you safe on the road.
1. Maintain a Safe Speed
Speed limits in construction zones are often reduced for the safety of both workers and drivers. Paying attention to these posted speed limits is crucial, as speeding can result in severe consequences. Remember, trucks require more time to stop due to their size and weight. Maintaining a safe speed allows more time to react to unexpected situations.
2. Stay Alert and Minimize Distractions
Construction zones are dynamic environments with numerous variables, including workers, heavy machinery, detours, and changing traffic patterns. As such, heightened awareness is essential. Keep distractions to a minimum. Put your phone away, avoid adjusting the radio or GPS, and concentrate on the road and the surrounding environment.
3. Merging in Construction Zones
Construction zones usually contain lane closures, causing multiple lanes to merge. While it can be frustrating, some vehicles will try to go to the front of the line before merging at the last possible moment. Always maintain a professional mentality and allow cars to enter the merge lane, no matter how frustrating it is, instead of trying to box them out, potentially causing a crash. In a collision, you will likely be blamed and found at fault.
4. Practice Defensive Driving
Defensive driving involves anticipating potential hazards and responding appropriately. Given the unpredictability of construction zones, increasing your following distance, providing other vehicles with plenty of space, and preparing for sudden stops are advisable.
5. Respect Construction Workers
Construction workers are exposed to significant risks while performing their duties. Respecting their space and observing safety rules help protect and contribute to the smooth operation of the construction zone. Be prepared to stop or slow down, obey flaggers, and be mindful of workers and machinery near the roadway.
6. Understand and Follow Signage
Signage provides crucial information about the conditions ahead. Understanding and following signage instructions are critical to safely navigating construction zones, whether a detour, reduced speed limit, or road closure.
7. Use Your Lights Appropriately
In low visibility conditions often encountered in construction zones, your truck’s lights can enhance visibility for you and other drivers and workers. Use low-beam headlights in most construction zones, and consider using four-way flashers when significantly reducing speed or coming to a stop.
8. Plan Ahead
Before hitting the road, check your route for potential construction zones. Many state departments of transportation provide real-time updates on road conditions, which can help you prepare and seek alternate routes.
9. Keep Your Vehicle in Top Shape
Mechanical issues can be significantly more problematic in construction zones due to limited space and lack of shoulder areas. Regular maintenance and pre-trip inspections can ensure your vehicle is in good condition and minimize the risk of breakdowns.