Safe Driving Through Work Zones

Kent McGuire – OSU CFAES Safety and Health Coordinator

It is the start of road construction season, as signified by orange barrels, directional arrow signs, and the sight of heavy equipment beside the road. It is also a good time to encourage safe driving practices and consider the safety of those working in highway work zones. According to “Safety Now” here are ten tips for driving safely in construction work zones.

1. In any work zone along any road, major or minor, expect the unexpected. Normal speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be changed, and people and vehicles may be working on or near the road.
2. Obey warning signs – they are posted in advance of road construction projects to give you time to follow their instructions to merge, slow down or stop.
3. Stay alert and minimize distractions. Dedicate your full attention to the roadway and resist the temptation to get on your cell phone or engage in other distracting behaviors while driving through a work zone.
4. Stay calm. Work zones aren’t there to personally inconvenience you. They’re necessary to improvethe roads for everyone.
5. You may see flashing arrow panels or “lane closed ahead” signs. Merge as soon as possible. Don’tzoom right up to the lane closure, then try to barge in – if everyone cooperates, traffic moves more
efficiently. Motorists can help maintain traffic flow and posted speeds by moving to the appropriate lane at first notice of an approaching work zone.
6. Slow down when the signs say to. Speeding is one of the leading causes of work zone relatedcrashes so slow down and take your time.
7. The most common crash in a highway work zone is the rear-end collision, so remember to leave atleast two seconds of braking distance between you and the car in front of you. The amount of space
required to provide two seconds of stopping time will increase the faster you’re driving!
8. Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and traffic barriers, trucks, construction equipment andworkers. Just like you, highway workers want to return home safely after each day’s work.
9. Just because you don’t see the workers immediately after you see the warning signs doesn’t mean they’re not out there. Some work zones – like line painting, road patching and mowing are mobile,
moving down the road as the work is finished. Observe the posted signs until you see the one thatstates you’ve left the work zone.
10. Highway agencies use many different and varying ways to inform motorists about the location and duration of major work zones. Often, the agencies will suggest a detour to help you avoid the work
zone entirely. Plan ahead, and try an alternate route.
For more information about the OSU Ag Safety visit or contact Kent McGuire, OSU Agricultural Safety & Health, at or 614-292-0588.