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5 Tips for Driving Through Highway Work Zones

November 20, 2023

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Given that it’s the seventh-most populous state in the nation, it’s no surprise that Ohio’s highways and interstates are among the most heavily traveled in the U.S. The wear and tear caused by millions of vehicles traversing the state every year means our highways and interstates need frequent and extensive repairs, and those repairs mean plenty of work zones.

Although many people see work zones as little more than annoyances, they are essential for keeping our roads in good condition. They can also be extremely dangerous areas for both drivers and the people who work in them. Because of these dangers, it’s essential for drivers to exercise caution and be as safety-focused as possible while driving through them.

To stay safe the next time you pass through a highway work zone, do your best to follow these five tips.

1. Slow Down and Obey the Posted Speed Limits

One of the most critical aspects of driving through work zones is reducing your speed. Highway work zones typically have reduced speed limits posted, and it's essential to adhere to these limits. Speed limits in work zones are set to accommodate the changed traffic patterns, narrow and/or reduced lanes, and unexpected obstacles such as construction equipment that are common in these areas. Failing to slow down can lead to accidents, injuries, or even fatalities.

Remember that fines for speeding in work zones are often doubled, and law enforcement is vigilant in these areas. Speeding not only puts you at risk of a crash, but it also endangers the lives of construction workers and other drivers. Always be prepared to reduce your speed when you see work zone signs and maintain a safe following distance behind the vehicle in front of you.

2. Stay Alert and Eliminate Distractions

In work zones, conditions can change rapidly, and unexpected obstacles, lane shifts, and lane and ramp closures may appear. That's why it's crucial to stay alert and focused on the road while driving. Avoid distractions such as texting, talking on the phone, or fiddling with the radio while driving through work zones.

Keep your eyes on the road, both hands on the wheel, and your mind focused on the task of driving. If you need to use your phone or GPS, pull over in a safe location outside the work zone to do so. The safety of everyone on the road depends on your attentiveness.

3. Follow Signs and Flaggers' Instructions

Work zones are often marked with many different signs and signals to guide drivers safely through the area. These signs provide important information about speed limits, lane closures, detours, and potential hazards. Pay close attention to these signs and follow their instructions carefully.

In some work zones, flaggers may be present to direct traffic. These workers play a vital role in ensuring the safe flow of vehicles through the area, and it’s important to follow their instructions promptly and be patient if you encounter delays. Remember that the flaggers are there to protect you and the workers, and their directions should always be followed (and violating them can result in an expensive ticket or even a crash).

4. Maintain a Safe Following Distance

Maintaining a safe following distance is crucial when driving through work zones. Tailgating is dangerous at any time, but it's especially risky in work zones where sudden stops or lane changes can occur. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 20% of fatal work zone crashes involved rear-end collisions. Leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

A general rule of thumb for maintaining a safe follow distance is to keep a distance of at least three seconds between you and the vehicle ahead. You can determine this by picking a fixed object near the road, such as a sign or a tree, and counting the seconds it takes for your vehicle to reach that point after the car in front of you passes it. It should take you at least three seconds to reach that fixed object, and if it takes less time than that, you’re following too closely.

5. Be Patient and Plan Ahead

Finally, one of the best ways to ensure your safety in work zones is to plan ahead and allow extra time for your journey. Expect delays in work zones, and don't rush. Plan your route in advance, check for real-time traffic updates, and consider alternative routes if available.

By allowing extra time for your trip, you'll reduce stress and frustration, making it easier to stay patient and drive safely through the work zone. Remember that the inconveniences caused by work zones are temporary, and once the work is complete, the stretch of highway or interstate will likely have fewer slowdowns in the future.

Our Ohio Car Accident Lawyers Can Help After a Highway Crash

Whether they occur in or out of work zones, crashes on highways and interstates can result in serious injuries. That’s because they feature many vehicles traveling at high speeds in close proximity. To make matters worse, as soon as two vehicles are involved in a crash on a highway or interstate, it’s not uncommon for other vehicles to end up in a pile-up crash.

If you or a loved one are injured in a highway, interstate, or work zone accident, the Ohio auto accident attorneys at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy want to help. We know you need maximum compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, and we have the experience and aggressive approach to help you get it. Contact us today for a free case review.

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