Construction delays resulting from construction zones often create major headaches for truck drivers, especially those paid by the mile. Even more, construction zones serve as major safety problems for truck and passenger car drivers. In fact, according to the FHWA, over the past five years, over 4,400 people have been killed and over 200,000 injured in work zones, whether involving a large truck or not.
Furthermore, approximately every three days a fatal work zone crash involving a large truck occurs in the United States. That represents 133 truck-involved work zone crashes per year involving a large heavy-duty commercial motor vehicle. Rural interstates account for 47% of fatal work zone crashes. Nearly half of the time those crashes occurred because a large truck hit something or someone that was in front of the vehicle.
While the numbers from the FHWA bear out that work zones are dangerous for anyone traveling the nation’s roads or highways, they are particularly difficult for trucks, who must operate within the confines of either narrowed lanes or lanes that are diverted, merging, or requiring a major reduction in speed. The fact is, even the most professional, accident-free truck drivers must pay extra attention and take great care when traveling through construction or work zones.
Fortunately, there are specific actions truck drivers can take to ensure they get through work zones safely. With proper care and diligence, these sections of road need not be potential death traps for passenger car operators or truck drivers.
Pay Attention to Signage
Work zone signs tell those traversing the work zone everything they need to know. By reading the signs and taking proper care to follow their instructions, you will quickly understand the changes in road conditions or traffic patterns. Not paying attention to the signs can be a matter of life and death if not paid attention to. And considering that truck driver distraction is a factor in a third of all work zone crashes, it is especially important to pay close attention to the signs that are telling you what to expect.
Leave Plenty of Distance
Leaving enough space between your truck and the vehicle in front of you is always important, but it is especially important in work zones. In some cases, the signage may either not be correct or may have been blown over by wind. By paying extra attention to the taillights in front of your truck, you can know what is happening ahead of time. Keeping a good visual horizon, paying attention to road and traffic patterns, and quick preparation for slowing down or stopping can be the critical factor in preventing an accident from occurring.
Reduce Your Speed
When it comes to sudden stopping, high rates of speed can be extremely dangerous. Not only should truck drivers obey reduced speed signs, it doesn’t hurt to knock off a fraction more. Work zones change quickly and if you can’t quickly adjust your driving scenario to account for changing conditions within a work zone, you may find yourself in an unsafe situation. Keep your speed in check and always be ready to slow or stop when the situation merits.
Exercise Excessive Patience
Truck drivers must always be patient. Never let the need to get to a shipper or receiver on time cause you to try barreling through a work zone. You must always be on the look out for construction workers, signal to others what you plan to do and merge safely and early, no matter what your time constraint. Safe and professional truck drivers practice these tips with zealous frequency. Do you?