road construction safety

Work Zone Safety for Drivers

Updated June 3, 2020 . AmFam Team

With summer comes road construction – and lots of it. Keep your road-trip dreams on track with these tips for safely navigating through construction zones.

If you’ve ever driven in the summer, you know that road work is as classic as the summer road trip itself. Generally free of unfavorable conditions, the summer affords construction workers the opportunity to work without much interruption.

Whether you’re a regular commuter or weekend adventurer, you’ve likely noticed an increase in construction sites as the weather begins to warm up. And you’ve also likely noticed that significant attention is given to highway work zone safety during this time.

From work area signs and slogans to law enforcement statements on increased fines, work zone safety becomes a top priority during construction season.


Why Is Highway Construction Safety Important?

Road work safety is important for both motorists and workers alike. In 2017, according to the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse, there were upwards of 94,000 total work zone crashes (Opens in a new tab). Thankfully, it’s a trend that’s on the decline — through the efforts of many transportation safety organizations and safe motorists like yourself.

Highway work zone safety is so important, in fact, that it has its own awareness week every year in the spring. Several traffic and transportation organizations have teamed together to sponsor National Work Zone Awareness Week (Opens in a new tab) (NWZAW) each year to highlight safety precautions drivers can take to avoid work zone accidents.

How To Drive Safe This Summer

Whether you’re on a cross-country adventure or simply making a grocery trip, here are some safety tips to help you safely navigate construction zones this season:

Practice zipper merging

The traffic jams and accidents that happen in construction zones are often caused by people improperly merging out of a closing lane. Zipper merging helps by reducing the differences in speed between both lanes, the overall length of traffic and creates a sense of fairness among drivers of both lanes by keeping traffic moving at an even pace. According to a Minnesota Department of Transportation (Opens in a new tab) article, research on zipper merging has shown to decrease construction zone dangers for divers.

Help maintain traffic flow and practice zipper merging (Opens in a new tab).

Mind the reduced speed limit

Though lower speed limits can be frustrating, they’re put in place for a reason in construction zones. Don’t risk traffic violations — slow down when passing through construction. Safe workers and passengers are worth the wait.

And remember, most states double the fine for drivers caught speeding in a work zone!

Stay in your lane

Try to reduce or remove lane changes when going through road work construction — the hazard isn’t worth the little amount of time you could save, and the likelihood of an accident is much greater.

Keep your distance

Tailgating is never a good idea — especially in a construction zone. One way to stop this bad habit is practicing the five-second rule.

Pick a spot in the road the car ahead just passed and count the time it takes you to pass it as well. If you’re following at a safe distance, it should take you about five seconds to reach that point.

Concentrate on the road

Construction zones are always a flurry of activity and potential hazards, and it can be easy to get distracted. Keep your eyes on the road and proceed cautiously through the work area.

Be patient

Construction traffic is frustrating for everyone, but remember, the work is necessary to keep our roads in tip-top shape. So, turn on some tunes or a podcast and let traffic run its course.

If you’re planning a road trip this summer, consider adding American Family’s Emergency Roadside Service to your auto policy. Should you hit a snag and need assistance, we’ll be there to get you back on the road in no time! Reach out to your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) — they’re glad to help you add this important coverage to your policy.

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    Checking social media

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    Eating behind the wheel

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    • Putting on makeup
    • Using an app
    • Loud music

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    There are easy ways to prevent distracted driving. Try using making these five simple changes distracted driving safety tips to have a safer driving experience.

    Use a text-blocking app

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    Have a passenger navigate for you

    If you’re driving with a passenger (of an appropriate age), hand the directions to them. Even a not-so-great navigator in the passenger seat is better than the person behind the wheel being responsible for both driving and navigating. If you’re driving by yourself, take the time to look at the directions before you set off. Then turn the volume up and let the AI lead the way.

    Make music selection easy

    Make multiple playlists that you can choose from before starting the car. If you really need to change it up, either pull over or wait for a red light. Set your presets to stations you already know you like. Hitting one button is better than cranking the dial until you find music you like.

    Don’t text while driving

    If you’re behind the wheel, just put the phone away. Social media can wait. It’s not going anywhere — that we can promise. Are the notifications too tempting? Turn them off! No comment or new tweet is worth the risk.

    Eat at home or while stopped

    If you’re in a rush and want to keep things moving, consider the hazards of driving while eating behind the wheel. Hopefully you can recognize that the risks outweigh the temptation, and you can wait until you get to your destination to eat.

     

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    The Insurance Information Institute claims driving while interacting with a mobile device can increase the odds of a crash by as much as 3.5 times, compared to the risks that a sober, alert and attentive driver faces. Teens are more susceptible to collisions, even when speaking hands-free on a mobile phone. Let’s explore the many ways you can help prevent distracted driving accidents.