Another construction season is upon us.

There is an old saying that there are only two seasons: winter and construction. In most of the country a limited amount of road construction can be done in the winter months, so as soon as the temperatures are moderate, the cones, barrels, barriers and workers come out.

Let’s look at the hazards:
  • Other vehicles making abrupt lane changes and/or sudden stops. 
  • Drivers tailgating you and others around you. 
  • Drivers speeding in the construction zone or prior to entering it. 
  • Workers in the already reduced and busy space. 
  • Construction equipment entering and exiting the work area at slow speeds. 
  • Change in road conditions, pavement height, reduced clearances, markings not clear or obliterated. 
  • Sharp turns and sudden lane shifts. 

The key to getting through this without hurting yourself, someone else or your safety record requires thought, planning and execution. The four areas of a construction zone are:

The advanced warning area: This area is well-marked, well in advance of the actual work area. Get in the proper lane well in advance, reduce your speed to whatever the posted limit is in the construction zone (in most states speeding fines are at least doubled in construction zones), increase your following distance and be prepared to stop when that “unforeseen event” occurs in front of you.

The transition area: This is the area that moves traffic out of its normal path into the work zone. This is where you really have to be alert for sudden, unexpected and unexplainable movement of the traffic around you. Slow down and maintain that increased following distance.

The activity area: This is where the work is getting done. Workers, equipment, storage areas and many times, reduced space and visibility are hazards that require extra attention until you can clear the actual work zone.

The termination area: This area lets traffic return to its normal path of travel and is where you are most likely to encounter the impatient, aggressive driver trying to get around you and the other traffic to “make up time” lost due to the delay caused by the construction. 

There is no magic formula on how to successfully negotiate these dangerous areas. Watch for the signs and immediately reduce speed; get in the proper lane well in advance, increase your following distance at least 6 to 12 seconds; be prepared to merge, be prepared to stop. Turn off the radio; put the cell phone down, the coffee cup in its holder and give driving 100% of your attention until you clear this area. Also remember that construction can be going on 24 hours a day so don’t think that just because it’s dark, you’re clear of the construction zone challenges.

This construction, as aggravating as it may be sometimes, is being done to improve our workplace. Let them work, let them live and enjoy this improved roadway the next time through.

Drive safely. 
Drive responsibly. 
Drive professionally.


The information contained in this report was obtained from sources which, to the best of the writer’s knowledge, are authentic and reliable. Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. makes no guarantee of results and assumes no liability in connection with either the information herein contained, or the safety suggestions herein made. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that every acceptable safety procedure is contained herein, or that abnormal or unusual circumstances may not warrant or require further or additional procedures.