Tips for Driving Safely in Construction Zones
If you’ve lived in Michigan long enough, you’ve surely heard the joke about how we have two seasons here: winter and construction. Once the weather warms up, construction crews are out there working hard to repair the damage caused by harsh winter weather and it’s very likely that will involve tearing up and completely replacing part of a roadway.
Road construction isn’t convenient, but it is necessary. However, if you’re not careful, it can also be dangerous for construction workers and drivers alike. Every year, thousands of accidents occur in road work zones. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which were published in 2014, 200,000 people were injured and 4,400 people died in work zone crashes over the previous five years. 85% of those fatalities involved drivers and passengers.
Trying to find routes that will help you avoid road construction as much as possible is the ideal solution, but sometimes you might not be able to completely avoid it or you might encounter a construction zone you didn’t know about ahead of time. If you aren’t able to steer clear of a road construction zone, here are a few tips from a car accident lawyer to help everyone stay as safe as possible.
Watch Your Speed
If you’re driving through a construction zone, pay close attention for any signs about the speed limit. In Michigan, the speed limit in construction zones is 45 MPH, but there may be signs telling you otherwise.
Not only does following the speed limit help keep everyone involved safe, there may be some steep consequences if you are caught going over the limit. Here in Michigan, fines and penalties are doubled for moving violations in work zones. If you receive a violation for going 10 MPH or less above the posted limit, you’ll get 3 points on your driving record. If you’re caught going 10-15 MPH over the posted limit, that’s 4 points. For those caught going over 15 MPH over the limit, they get 5 points on their record. However, if you injure or kill a worker in a construction zone, you could face up to $7,500 in fines and up to 15 years in prison.
Stay Focused on the Road
Construction zones can often change from day to day, so it’s important to give your full attention to what’s going on around you. Distracted driving is never a good thing, but it can be particularly dangerous if you’re in a construction zone. You need to keep an eye out for any posted signs and you never know when a flagger might be out trying to give you special instructions. You also need to be on high alert for construction workers who are working close to the area you are passing through.
Increase Your Following Distance
Rear end collisions are the most common type of car accident that occurs in work zones, so make sure you keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you. Not only are people moving more slowly through work zones, it’s very common for people to have to stop suddenly. If you’re behind a commercial truck, remember that they will need some extra distance to stop.
Try to Merge Early
When a lane will be closed due to construction, signs will be posted to give drivers plenty of notice. If you see one of these signs and you’re in the lane that will be closing, get over as soon as it’s safe to do so. Many car accidents in work zones occur when a driver waits until the last minute to get out of a lane that’s closing.
Lastly, just try to be patient. Nobody enjoys dealing with road construction, but remember that it’s only temporary. If you can’t avoid a construction zone, just give yourself some extra time to work your way through it safely.