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FHWA Home / Safety / Trucking Safely Through Work Zones

Trucking Safely Through Work Zones

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Safety practices for drivers of large trucks

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

The Difference Between Large Trucks And Cars

The stopping distance required for a large truck traveling at 55 mph is almost 50 percent greater than that needed for a car.

GRAPH: at 40mph, a truck needs 36% farther to stop; at 55mph, a truck needs 49% farther, and at 65 mph, a truck needs 66% farther than a car to stop.

Estimates are for 80,000 lb. loaded, tractor-trailers and mid-size passenger cars traveling on a dry, level road. Source: National Safety Council

The Facts About Work Zone Crashes Involving Large Trucks

Angle, rear-end, and head-on collisions are the most common types of work zone crashes involving large trucks.

HOW many occur?

WHEN do they happen?

WHERE do they take place?

From 1997 until 2000, fatalities in work zones involving large trucks was on the rise, but in 2001, the number of fatalities has started to fall

Icon of semi pulling a trailorSafety Practices For Drivers of Large Trucks

Work zones often result in narrow lanes, merging, shifting lanes, slowing and stopping traffic, unexpected work vehicles entering the traffic flow, temporary speed limit adjustments, flaggers in the roadway, confused drivers, and other disruptions.

  • Always wear your safety belt.
  • Pay attention to the signs.
  • Adhere to instructions by the flagger.
  • Leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you to stop safely.
  • Take advantage of your driving height and anticipate braking situations.
  • Be prepared to slow down or stop suddenly in a work zone.
  • Get into the correct lane well in advance of lane closures.
  • Be cautious of motorists racing to get ahead of you in merge areas.
  • Be aware of your No-Zone areas where crashes are more likely to occur.
  • Avoid work zones by using alternate routes where possible.

Most Common Types of Crashes by Work Zone Area

Diagram of truck 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

Large truck drivers should use extra caution in the merge areas and get in the correct lane well in advance of the lane closure. One-third of all crashes between large trucks and cars happen in the danger areas around the truck. These danger areas, known as the No-Zone, are along the sides, front, and rear of trucks where the driver cannot see, even with the best mirrors.

FHWA-SA-03-010

Page last modified on December 10, 2014.
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