You are near the intersection of I-77 and I-90, and traffic comes to a near halt. The orange traffic cones and frustrated drivers around you signal that you are in no man’s land – otherwise known as a road work area and one of the most dangerous places to be.
As the temperatures warm up, road repair and construction begin. This season in Ohio is intense because our roads need a lot of attention. Dedicated workers who brave traffic hazards are the only reason the roads remain passable. So you will need to work hard to keep these crews and yourself safe by taking a few simple precautions this spring and summer.
Check Construction Site Location
You can simplify your commute or weekend trip by checking road conditions before leaving home. The ODOT website lists road construction projects and closures on their site, so it’s wise to check it out before hitting I-77. You can also use a variety of free traffic apps to help you avoid repair and construction areas. Even your regular GPS can guide you around these work sites.
Avoiding these areas also protects road workers. Fewer cars means fewer safety hazards for them. Plus, you’ll get to your destination more quickly while minimizing traffic at these dangerous locations.
Follow Merge Signs
Impatient drivers are always a hazard at work sites, but so are timid drivers. Following the road signs is one sure way to avoid accidents in these areas. For instance, if the road indicates an upcoming merge, don’t hit the brakes and signal a turn. You risk a collision when you move too soon. The lanes will indicate when you should merge. Do it then and avoid the sudden stops and awkward turns that lead to collisions. You will also avoid slowing everyone else down. A traffic jam at a road work site is a dangerous situation.
Stay Within the Work Zone Speed Limit
It’s hard to drive 35 or below on the interstate, even in a work zone, especially if you’ve been cruising along at 65 mph or above. Many drivers make a halfhearted attempt to slow down to 50 or so, but that simply doesn’t cut it. If you slam into workers, or even their vehicles, at that speed, someone will be killed or seriously injured. Don’t just slow down – slow down enough. Remember, if you cause an accident in one of these zones, you may receive higher fines and may even be charged with a crime. Road workers have special legal protections.
Don’t Pass in a Work Zone
The temptation to pass that old pickup going 20 in a 35 mph zone is nearly overwhelming, particularly when the road looks clear up ahead. No matter how safe it looks, you should never pass in a work zone. By their very nature, road work zones are full of people busy doing their jobs. Many work vehicles are parked on the shoulder or in the median, which makes driving especially hazardous. You don’t know when a worker or their vehicle will enter the affected lane. Accept your fate and drive slowly for a few miles. In the end, you will only lose a few minutes of travel time, even if it feels like years.
Respect the Road Workers
Dozens of road workers are killed each year, and that number has been rising recently. Their deaths are often caused by simple disrespect. Drivers don’t follow instructions and accidents are the result. Even if these workers aren’t injured, they often suffer verbal abuse from the motoring public. Remember, the person holding the stop sign is not your enemy. Trying to zip around them or driving too close to them is unnecessary and unsafe. And screaming at them for delaying your trip is simply unacceptable. If you treat these workers as professionals and not obstacles, everyone will be safer and happier this road construction season.
Ohio, and Cleveland in particular, has some of the worst roads in the nation. Without this season’s repair and construction work, the situation is going to deteriorate further. This year, help everyone stay safe by following a few commonsense driving tips. Once the work is done, life will be much less bumpy in the Cleveland area.
If you or a loved one is involved in a work zone accident, contact Friedman, Domiano & Smith. We specialize in motor vehicle and personal injury cases and can protect your rights throughout the legal process. Call 1-800-280-0070 or log on now and chat with a qualified representative.