Construction season is the bane of most driver's experiences. The seemingly endless delays and detours can cause a lot of frustration, road rage, and accidents. The only thing predictable about construction is that it is unpredictable. Stretches of road may be closed or realigned one day to the next, speeds may change, road surfaces can vary, construction workers may be directing traffic.
All of these factors can cause driver distraction to the traffic itself, as we focus on all of the other factors around us. The most dangerous thing of course, is when the constructions workers are on or near the live lanes of traffic either working on the road side, or directing traffic flow. It is unfortunate that a few are killed every year by drivers who weren't attentive to their presence. In some American states speeds are cut by half in construction zones, fines are more than doubled, and if someone hits a construction worker the mandatory minimum fines are life altering with $10000 fines and 10 years in prison.
In Canada we also have reduced speed limits and higher fines in construction zones. It appears though that there is not a lot of enforcement of the reduced limits along the 401, with people regularly travelling well above the normal speed limit in the reduced speed zones. This serves to endanger both the drivers on the road and the construction workers at the side of the road.
The Ontario Driver’s Manual states that:
Workers on the road
Be extra careful when driving through construction zones and areas where people are working on or near the road.
When approaching a construction zone, proceed with caution and obey all warning signs, people and/or devices that are directing traffic through the area. Often, lower speed limits are posted to increase worker safety and reflect increased road hazards, such as construction vehicles in the area, uneven or gravel surfaces, narrowed lanes and so on. In the construction zone, drive carefully and adjust your driving to suit the conditions, do not change lanes, be ready for sudden stops and watch for workers and related construction vehicles and equipment on the road.
Other types of workers and vehicles may also be present on the road and pose a hazard, such as roadside assistance and disable vehicles, surveyors, road maintenance or utility workers. Always slow down and pass with caution to prevent a collision. If safe to do so, move over a lane to increase the space between your vehicle and the hazard.
Traffic-control workers direct vehicle traffic in work zones and prevent conflicts between construction activity and traffic. Whether you are driving during the day or at night, watch for traffic-control people and follow their instructions.
Treat people working on roads with respect, and be patient if traffic is delayed. Sometimes traffic in one direction must wait while vehicles from the other direction pass through a detour. If your lane is blocked and no one is directing traffic, yield to the driver coming from the opposite direction. When the way is clear, move slowly and carefully around the obstacle.
Recent changes to the Highway Traffic Act have resulted in doubled fines for speeding in a construction zone when workers are present. It is also an offence to disobey STOP or SLOW signs displayed by a traffic-control person or firefighter.
Please remember to slow down inn all construction zones to keep yourself and others safe. Always obey the flag person when they are present and keep a look out for construction workers need live lanes of traffic.