Construction Work Zone Safety for Motorists & Workers

Construction work zone accident

Road construction is a necessary evil to maintain our roadways and keep them safe. However, it can also be very frustrating when you come up on construction work zones you didn’t expect as you’re driving to your destination, especially if there are detours you have to contend with.

Construction Work Zones Defined

Construction work zones are more than the major road construction you might think of. They also can include moving operations such as striping, patching or mowing or they can be short-term, temporary lane closures for quick repairs.

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) defines a work zone as “an area of a highway with construction, maintenance, or utility work activities. A work zone is typically marked by signs, channelizing devices, barriers, pavement markings, and/or work vehicles. It extends from the first warning sign or high-intensity rotating, flashing, oscillating, or strobe lights on a vehicle to the end road work sign or the last temporary traffic control device.”

MUTCD defines the standards used by road managers nationwide to install and maintain traffic control devices on all public streets, highways, bikeways, and private roads open to public travel.

Slow Down and Move Over Law in Missouri

As drive times increase, a driver’s patience decreases; that’s when accidents happen.

In Missouri, the state Slow Down and Move Over law “includes MoDOT vehicles parked with amber/white lights flashing. Motorists are required to slow down and change lanes when approaching MoDOT vehicles or law enforcement and emergency vehicles with lights flashing. The law is simple: if you see flashing lights on the side of the road, move over to give workers and emergency personnel plenty of room to stay safe.”

MoDot’s three “S’s” of managing work zones safely include Speed, Space and Stress.

Safety in Construction Work Zones

Keeping a work zone safe for motorists is just one responsibility of those managing the site; keeping those doing the work safe is another.

Construction zone workers are just as likely to be struck by construction or maintenance related equipment (dump trucks, bulldozers, graders) as by cars, tractor-trailers, or other vehicles

Reduce accidents by following MUTCD’s five parameters for improving worker safety:

  • Training workers how to work next to motor vehicle traffic to minimize their vulnerability
  • Placing temporary traffic barriers along the work space
  • Reducing the speed of traffic through speed zoning, funneling, lane reduction or the use of flaggers
  • Planning the internal work activity area to minimize hazards such as backing-up of construction vehicles
  • Worker safety planning, including a basic hazard assessment for the worksite and job classifications required in the activity area and determining what engineering, administrative or personal protection measures should be taken

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