Longer and warmer days make summer a good time for roadwork to begin. It also puts more drivers on the road. This can be a dangerous combination. Between 1982 and 2014, work zone crashes killed 24,745 people according to the Federal Highway Administration. There are precautions that both road workers and drivers can take to ensure that everyone on the road has a safe summer.
Safety Tips for Roadway Workers
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers the following tips to keep roadway workers safe.
Training – Provide workers with training on how to work safely near traffic. Some workers, like flaggers, should have specific training on correct techniques, equipment (e.g., cones, signs, etc.) use and placement.
Protective clothing – Require workers to wear high-visibility apparel that meets OSHA standards. A competent person should ensure that all workers are wearing the appropriate apparel for their tasks. OSHA defines a competent person as “one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them” [29 CFR 1926.32(f)].
Barriers – Place traffic barriers based on road and traffic conditions such as traffic speed, lateral clearance from traffic, time of day, etc.
Speed reduction – Take steps to slow speeding traffic using work zone speed reductions, flaggers, lane reduction, or law enforcement officers.
Activity areas – Design the work zone to limit the need for vehicles and equipment to back up; lessening the risk of someone being run over.
Safety Tips for Drivers
Roadway workers are only one part of the safety equation. Drivers have an important role in preventing roadway accidents too.
Pay attention – Avoid distractions (e.g., cell phones, eating, playing with the radio) while driving.
Use your Headlights – Take advantage of headlights or daytime running lights to increase your vehicle’s visibility
Stay alert – Watch for brake lights, do not tailgate, pay attention to road signs and lane markers, follow instructions from roadway workers directing traffic so you are prepared to merge lanes or stop if necessary.
Slow down – Follow posted speed limits as traffic may stop suddenly and workers may only be a few feet from your vehicle.