Work Zone Safety for Drivers

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Picture of a construction zone on a bridge

This brochure provides information to drivers on work zone safety.

Creating Safer Work Zones:
Improving Operations on Both Sides of the Barrel

Facts

  • During the past 5 years in work zone crashes more than:
    • 4,400 persons died (85 percent of which was the driver or passenger)
    • 200,000 persons were injured
  • Drivers are the most frequent fatality in work zone crashes
  • Most work zone fatalities involve working-age adults
  • Rear-end crashes (running into the rear of a slowing or stopping vehicle) are the most common type of work zone crash.
  • Fatal work zone crashes occur most often in summer and fall.
  • The majority of fatal work zone crashes occurred on roads with speed limits greater than 50 mph.
  • Stopping distance for motor vehicles at 50 mph:
    • Dry roadway~300 ft
    • Wet roadway~400 ft
    • Icy pavement~1250 ft
  • A loaded 80,000 lb. tractor-trailer requires almost 50% more stopping distance.
  • It takes only an extra 25 seconds to cover 1 mile at 45 mph compared to 65 mph.

Safety Tips for the Driver

Remember these driving tips to avoid "A Sudden Change in Plans" and perhaps save a lifeincluding your own!

Stay Alert and Minimize Distractions

  • Dedicate your full attention to the roadway
  • Avoid changing the radio station, using a mobile phone, eating, or other distractions that can remove your concentration from the road

Keep Your Headlights On

Pay Attention to the Road

  • "Listen to the signs"
  • Watch brake lights on vehicles ahead
  • Watch traffic around you and be prepared to react

Merge into the Proper Lane

  • Merge well before you reach the lane closure
  • Be aware that traffic patterns can change daily

Don't tailgate

  • Follow other vehicles at a safe distance

Obey the Posted Speed Limit

  • Workers may be present just feet away
  • Fines may be doubled for moving traffic violations
  • Be prepared to slow down further if conditions indicate the need

Change Lanes Safely

  • Change lanes only where pavement markings indicate, and only when traffic conditions permit

Follow Instructions from Flaggers

Expect the Unexpected

  • Workers, work vehicles, or equipment may enter your lane without warning
  • Other vehicles may slow, stop, or change lanes unexpectedly

Be Patient


Listen to the signs.

Road Work Ahead sign
Road work is just ahead. Be prepared for unusual driving conditions.

Two Way sign
Traffic is traveling in both directions on a roadway that is normally one way. Be alert for oncoming traffic.

PilotCar Follow Me sign
Traffic needs to follow this vehicle to get safely through the work zone.

Merge sign
A lane is about to end, requiring you to merge into the adjacent lane. The "bent" lane shows which lane is ending.

Flag Man sign
A flagger is ahead. Be prepared to stop and/or follow instructions.

Detour sign
You will need to take an alternate route soon.

End Road Work sign
You have reached the end of the work zone. Resume normal, safe driving.


Most Common Types of Crashes by Work Zone Area

diagram of cars near workzone: 4 areas; Advance warning area-tells traffic what to expect, transition area-moves traffic out of path, Activity area-where work takes place, and Termination area-traffic resumes normal operations

Problem:

A driver in clear weather during mid-afternoon comes upon slow or stopped traffic due to a work zone and crashes into another vehicle, or in the process of avoiding such, crashes into a barrier, equipment or pedestrian.

Solution:

Follow the "Safety Tips"

Drive Smart:

Buckle Up, Slow Down, Save a Life

FHWA-SA-03-012

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Program Contact

Paul Pisano
Team Leader
Paul.Pisano@dot.gov
202-366-1301

Jawad Paracha
Program Manager
Jawad.Paracha@dot.gov
202-366-4628