D.O.T. promoting work zone awareness
AMES — “Roadway Work Zone Safety: We’re All in This Together.” That is the message being sent around the country to make drivers aware of the thousands of construction work zones that will be in place on state, county and local roads this construction season.
For calendar year 2013, the Iowa Department of Transportation is anticipating approximately $600 million in repairs to Iowa’s state highway system. Cities and counties across the state will have numerous projects underway as well.
With so many work zones set up in every corner of Iowa, understanding that the work is being performed to improve the transportation system and not to inconvenience motorists is key.
“Work Zone Awareness Week is just a good time to remind motorists that their friends and neighbors who work on our highways every day take a huge risk to help make travel better and safer for everyone,” said Mark Bortle.
Following a few simple guidelines can improve safety in a work zone for both drivers and workers.
Expect the unexpected in any work zone along any road. Speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be changed, and people and equipment may be at work on or near the road.
Slow down. Be alert. Pay attention to the signs. Diamond-shaped orange warning signs are generally posted in advance of road construction projects. Observe the posted signs until you see the one that marks the end of the work zone.
Watch out for flaggers. In addition to other warning signs, a “flagger ahead” warning sign may be posted in the work zone. Stay alert and be prepared to obey the flagger’s directions. In a work zone, a flagger has the same authority as a regulatory sign, so you can be cited for disobeying his or her directions.
Merge as soon as possible. Do not zoom right up to the lane closure, then try to barge in – if everyone cooperates, traffic moves more efficiently. Motorists can help maintain traffic flow and posted speeds by moving to the appropriate lane as quickly and safely as possible after first notice of an approaching work zone.
Slow down when directed. A car traveling 60 mph travels 88 feet per second. If a car going 60 mph passes a “Road Work 1500 feet” sign, the car will be in that work zone in 17 seconds.
Don’t tailgate.The most common crash in a highway work zone is the rear-end collision. A driver should leave at least two seconds of braking distance between his or her car and the vehicle in front.
A driver should keep a safe distance between his or her vehicle and traffic barriers, trucks, construction equipment and workers.
Work zones may be mobile. Some work zones – such as line painting, road patching, shoulder repair and mowing – are mobile and advance as the work is finished. Just because the workers are not seen immediately after the warning sign does not mean they are not present in the area.
Expect delays. Plan ahead and leave early to reach a destination on time. Highway agencies use many different ways to inform motorists about the location and duration of major work zones. Often, agencies will suggest a detour to help avoid the work zone entirely. Plan ahead and try an alternate route.
More information about work zone safety can be found on the Iowa D.O.T.’s website at iowadot.gov/workzone.