Raleigh commuters are having their patience tested with multi-lane construction on I-440, Raleigh’s belt line. They are also at risk of getting a ticket for traveling at speeds in excess of posted work zone limits. Special speed limits apply in work zones. There’s also a greater risk of accidents and injuries in work zones because of lane shifts or narrowed lanes, barricades and sudden traffic stops.
Drivers should take extra precautions when traveling in construction and work zones if they wish to avoid being cited for a traffic violation, or worse, involved in an accident. In recent years, more than 200,000 people have sustained injury and another 4,400 motorists have lost their lives in work zone car accidents, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA). Speed, weather, road conditions, distractions and other factors can play a contributing role in causing a work zone collision in or around Eastern North Carolina. The FHA reports the majority of fatalities in work zones take place along roads where the speed limit is greater than 50 miles per hour.
Dangers of Rear End and Construction Zone Accidents
Rear-end collisions are the most common type of accidents in construction and work zones. Drivers who fail to follow a safe distance behind the vehicle in front may not have enough time or distance to come to a complete stop should traffic in the work zone suddenly slow or stop. The distance a vehicle needs to stop increases to more when roadways are wet from rain or icy from snow and colder temperatures. Size and weight of the vehicle will also play a role in stopping distance.
Additional dangers drivers may face in construction and work zones include:
- Uneven road surfaces
- Heavy machinery
- Trucks and other vehicles entering the road
- Exterior distractions
- Lack of proper warning signs
As soon as a driver becomes distracted by work in a construction zone, or exhibits aggressive driving behavior out of frustration caused by backed-up traffic, the likelihood of a collision increases exponentially.
Tips to Help You Stay Safe While Driving in a Work Zone
Whether your summer travels are going to take you along I-440, through Raleigh and the outlying areas, or any location throughout Eastern NC, you should exercise caution in work zones. These tips will help you and your passengers stay safe and minimize your risk of being involved in a work zone accident:
- Always keep your attention on the roadways
- Do not allow yourself to become distracted, particularly in work zones
- Follow posted speed limit signs
- Watch out for construction workers and vehicles
- Keep an eye out for brake lights or stopped traffic
- Leave enough room between you and the vehicle in front of you
- Be prepared for the unexpected
- Allow yourself enough time and distance to react.
Keep in mind that, according to Distraction.gov, it only takes about five seconds for a vehicle to go the length of a football field when traveling at 55 miles per hour. These simple actions could be all it takes to keep you and your family safe while traveling in a work or construction zone. And, always watch for the “other guy.”
- S. Department of Transportation: Federal Highway Administration: Work Zone Safety for Drivers
- gov: Facts and Statistics