Drivers often get frustrated when they approach a highway work zone, especially with the warning that “fines are doubled in a work zone.” The leading cause of highway construction worker injuries and fatalities is contact with construction vehicles, objects, and equipment. Through a number of good practices, these injuries and deaths can be preventable.
More roadwork is being done as our highway infrastructure ages, and many transportation agencies are focusing on rebuilding and improving existing roadways. Therefore, more roadwork is performed on roads that are open to traffic. Traffic continues to grow and create more congestion, especially in urban areas. Some urban areas are doing more night work in order to avoid major lines of traffic during peak travel periods. With more work done alongside increasingly heavier traffic and greater use of night work, increased safety considerations should be given to highway workers. They are doing their job in order to make your highways safer and better. Two regulations and resources on good practices that can help workers perform their jobs safely are:
- MUTCD Part 6, Section 6D.03: Requires the use of high-visibility safety apparel by workers who are working within the rights-of-way of Federal-aid highways.
- High Visibility Standard: Provides a guide for the design, performance specifications, and use of high-visibility and reflective apparel including vests, jackets, bib-jumpsuit coveralls, trousers, and harnesses.
Roadway maintenance activities occur close to traffic, which creates a potentially dangerous environment for workers, drivers, and incident responders. In many cases, a Temporary Traffic Control (TTC) Zone will be needed to protect both workers and incident responders, as well as to allow for the safe movement of road users through or around these zones.
All workers who are involved with planning, installation, maintenance, and removal of a TTC Zone should have the appropriate safety and TTC Training. Drivers should be given adequate advance warning about the upcoming work zone to all road users by using the appropriate traffic control devices, such as cones or signs. Highway workers do not want to interfere with traffic; however, it is up to drivers to slow down, relax, and pay attention. The “double your traffic fine in work zones” should get your attention.
Mobile work moves intermittently or continuously. The same devices and vehicles apply to mobile work can be used for short duration operations. Examples of mobile work include: pavement marking installation; pavement sweeping; mowing in the highway right-of-way; and snow removal. Law enforcement officers and first responders may be involved in assisting persons involved in accidents; drivers should stop if necessary or get out of their way if possible. All persons working on or around work zones should be given the courtesy of working safely. Drivers should watch for temporary signs, lights, or other warning devices and begin to slow down in plenty of time.
Let’s keep our highways safe, for ourselves, and for the men and women who work to keep them safe for everyone.