Highway maintenance workers have one of the most dangerous jobs in America. They’re tasked with performing construction on busy highways or intersections that have been transformed into a literal maze of barrels, cones, and sudden lane changes. The chances of an accident occurring are very real.
For the average motorist, highway work zones represent nothing more than a major inconvenience. As such, many drivers will ignore the posted speed limit and do whatever it takes to avoid having to slow down or stop. This can lead to traffic collisions and deaths for both the workers and motorists.
At Stripe Rite, we offer traffic control services that are intended to add an additional layer of safety and security to any roadside construction project. Over the years, we’ve noticed certain things that motorists do that could lead to injuries or death.
We’ve compiled this blog post to list the top five things motorists can do to stay safe inside the highway work zone:
“Move Over” Law
In response to the increased fatalities of both highway workers and first responders, the Washington State Legislature amended their “Move Over” law (RCW 46.61.212) to include more protections. Over the past three years, motorists have crashed into over 86 patrol cars injuring 32 state troopers.
The amended law requires vehicles that are approaching emergency vehicles or roadway construction work to slow down and proceed with caution. If two lanes are going in the same direction, motorists are required to use the far-left lane until it is safe.
Fines can range from $136 for failing to move over all the way up to $1,000 for reckless endangerment violations. More severe penalties include jail time and loss of driving privileges.
Tips to Stay Safe
Washington State Patrol officers will be paying close attention to traffic violations in work zones and around first responder vehicles. To stay safe and avoid a potentially huge fine, here are some things you as a motorist can do:
Slow down! – Slowing down when you enter into a construction zone or are around emergency vehicles is the most important thing you can do to stay safe. When you notice construction warning signs, it’s an early indicator that traffic could suddenly come to a complete stop.
Warning signs – Highway work zones will be clearly marked as such. You will notice bright orange diamond-shaped warning signs well before you encounter the road construction. Expect slight delays, sudden lane changes, and altered driving routes.
“Lane closed ahead” signs – In addition to bright orange warning signs, you may also notice flashing LED signs that proclaim that a lane ahead is closed. You should start to slow down and merge into another lane when it’s safe to do so.
Expect the unexpected – Roadside construction zones are dynamic. While the workers and road crew have been trained repeatedly in safety, accidents can still occur.
Traffic can also come to a sudden and unexpected halt. When you see signs of road construction, expect slower speeds, obstacles such as bright orange barrels, and workers directing traffic flow.
Keep a safe distance – Most motorists nowadays are in a hurry to get to their destination. This can cause a rear-end accident as drivers will ride the proverbial bumper of the car ahead of them. Give the person in front of you at least a two-to-three car lead as the faster you are going, the more time it will take to come to a complete stop.
Washington Traffic Control
At Stripe Rite we take safety very seriously. We have developed a comprehensive safety plan that we employ on every single job we undertake. If you’re looking for traffic control services anywhere in Washington, give us a call at any of our five locations or contact us via our website.