In the Summer of 2012, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) program was signed into law, funding surface transportation projects over fiscal years
2013 and 2014 with an investment of over $105 billion. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the goal of MAP-21 is to further develop and streamline the many highway, transit, bike and pedestrian programs established since 1991.
As we move into the warmer weather season, transportation work zones will be even more extensive and plentiful with the influx of funds to the states from MAP-21. Starting off the season is the 14th Annual National Work Zone Awareness Week (April 15 – 19) with the theme of Work Zone Safety: We’re All In This Together. The week is dedicated to bringing national attention to motorist and worker safety and mobility issues in work zones, and highlighting the complexities of working in and driving through work zones.
Your best driving defenses in work zones are to slow down and focus on your driving. The most common crash in work zones is a rear-end collision, so leave at least 6-seconds of space between you and the vehicle ahead of you, and more space when conditions deteriorate due to bad weather or rough road surfaces. Proper following distance gives you time to react appropriately, particularly in stop-and-go traffic. Stay in your lane, keep space around your vehicle and obey the posted speed limit.
Nighttime Safety Issues
Night work zones are common because authorities prefer to avoid lane closures and congestion during peak daytime traffic. However, with less overall night traffic, drivers tend to drive faster. Speed and darkness are the main reasons why 55% of work zone fatalities occur at night. FHWA studies show that crash rates increase by 65% during night roadwork. Visibility is poor even with lighting towers, warning lights and signs brightening the area. Be sure to slow down and increase the space around your vehicle.
Plan Ahead And Stay Alert
As you approach the road signs alerting you to a work zone ahead, merge as soon as you can safely do so. Don’t drive up to the lane closure and then force yourself into the traffic flow. Once in the zone, if traffic merges into fewer lanes, use caution and courtesy to reduce the chance of a sideswipe. The worst of all merges is when a vehicle
at a full stop in one lane attempts to move directly into a lane where the traffic is moving. So watch ahead for the front wheels of a stopped vehicle turned toward the lane that is moving because that vehicle will try to merge. Continuously scan the area, keep headlights on, wear your seat belt and always be prepared to stop. Don’t let the inconsiderate mistakes of others make you angry; relax and take your time getting through the congestion.