While many road users only consider roadworks as a source of frustrating delays, they’re often some of the most high-risk driving situations many of us encounter. While most roadworks will have appropriate traffic control measures in place to ensure the safety of workers, pedestrians and motorists, and to keep traffic flowing smoothly, drivers should also take extra special care when passing roadworks. This handy guide will make sure you know what to look out for when you’re passing through roadworks.
Why you need to be cautious around roadworks
Without proper traffic control and safety precautions, roadworks can significantly increase the risk of accident and injury. For drivers and pedestrians, road conditions will have changed. That could mean changed speed limits, closed lanes, shared zones, gravel roads or temporary line markings. Any changes to road conditions present a potential risk to drivers and pedestrians.
Additionally, the proximity of workers and heavy machinery to the flow of traffic creates risks for both the workers and road users. While road workers have strict regulations they have to follow while on-site, they are relying on motorists and pedestrians to follow the appropriate speed limits and directions to ensure everyone’s safety.
It’s also worth noting that roadwork projects are carried out to clearly defined timelines. Any accident on the site can seriously disrupt the work schedule. Works could potentially be shut down and an accident investigation carried out. On site accidents can also end up in costly lawsuits. All this can seriously delay works leading to further ongoing disruptions to traffic.
To avoid this, it’s important to ensure you follow all directions and safety precautions while passing through roadworks.
Follow all signs and directions
Any roadworks should have appropriate traffic control to guide road users and warn them of any changes to conditions or potential risks. Traffic control may include reduced speed limit signs, lane change directions, detours or even temporary one-way traffic control.
It’s important to follow these signs as you would any road sign, even if there appears to be no activity or workers on site. While these directions are partially for the safety of workers, they’re also for your protection. If you were to drive at the usual speed limit, you may not have time to react to any changes.
Slow down as approaching work site
Speed is an important factor in reducing risks around roadworks. Slowing down around roadworks gives you time to take note of any changes to road conditions, as well as giving yourself and other road users more time to react.
Even if you have driven this road multiple times and have become accustomed to the changes, other drivers may not have. Having everyone drive at the same speed helps keep everyone safe.
Maintain a safe following distance
You can also show courtesy and respect to other drivers’ safety by keeping a safe distance from their vehicles. With changed conditions, they may need to slow or stop suddenly. If you’re too close to them, there may not be enough room to stop without incident.
However, you should not be slowing traffic down by keeping your safe distance. Aim to drive at roughly the same speed as the car in front of you. Otherwise, incidents may occur behind you if other drivers need to slow down suddenly because you are driving slowly.
Watch for entering traffic
As you maintain your safe speed and following distance, keep an eye out for any entering traffic. They may be coming from adjoining roads as well as the roadwork site itself. Follow usual road rules for giving way to allow them to enter, unless otherwise signalled. Doing so keeps traffic flowing smoothly and reduces the likelihood of incidents.
Follow usual road rules
Remember that standard road rules still apply while passing roadworks. While you may be more focused on watching the road ahead, don’t forget to use indicators when changing lanes or turning, for instance. These rules exist to keep everyone safe and aware of what traffic is doing.
For instance, if you were to suddenly change lanes without warning, other drivers may need to brake suddenly or swerve. Chain reactions would be likely, ending in multiple incidents as cars move to avoid you and inadvertently hit one another.
So that you can maintain focus and follow the above tips, it’s important that you minimise distractions from within the car. This includes not using your phone, even via Bluetooth, and turning down the radio. For your safety and the safety of others, you need to concentrate only on driving.
Roadworks are a necessary part of improving infrastructure, but they can present many risks. However, you can help minimise these risks with the tips above, helping keep everyone safe and making it more likely roadworks will be completed on time.