As part of National Work Zone Awareness Week (April 23-27),

AAA encourages motorists to slow down and stay alert in work zone areas

Hamilton, NJ – Warm, spring weather means the start of road-work season.  And with a very mild winter behind us, expect to see many more work zones popping up as state governments recycle their unused snow plowing budgets into paving projects.  While roadway workers face obvious risks to their safety, nearly 85 percent of those killed in work zone crashes are drivers or their passengers, not the roadway workers. During National Work Zone Awareness Week (April 23 – 27), AAA urges motorists to use caution and drive safely when approaching and driving through work zones.

The number of lives lost in work zone-related traffic crashes nationally has decreased by more than 51 percent from 1,186 in 2002 to 576 in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available.  

“While it’s good news that the number of work zone-related fatalities have decreased over time, more work needs to be done. The New Jersey Turnpike is just one of many roads in the state dotted with work zone areas that drivers need to negotiate,” says Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “A motorist’s crash risk in a work zone can be significantly reduced through the simple tasks of slowing down, observing posted advisories, preparing for unusual driving conditions and practicing patience.”

AAA offers the following work zone safety tips to motorists:

Plan Ahead – Motorists are encouraged to check for planned work zone delays and traffic advisories and allot extra travel time prior to departing for their trip. Travelers may use AAA’s online TripTik® Travel Planner to create maps and get turn-by-turn directions. TripTik® Travel Planner identifies longer-term construction areas and delivers advisory messages for such things as areas of historic congestion. Travelers are encouraged to visit state and local department of transportation websites for the latest road travel information and plan alternative routes to their destinations as needed. For on-the-go use, the routing feature in AAA’s free TripTik Mobile app assists motorists to navigate a new route.

Reduce Speed – For the safety of all drivers and construction workers, normal posted speed limits are often reduced in work zones. Most states double fines for speeding in work zones when workers are present. Drivers should not underestimate the speed at which they’re traveling before beginning to slow down; it can take longer than a driver may think to reduce a vehicle’s speed enough to safety enter the work zone area. Motorists, while keeping consistent with the flow of traffic, should maintain a safe distance between vehicles ahead, traffic barriers, construction workers and equipment.

Remain Alert – As with any driving situation, minimize interior and exterior distractions. Motorists should obey the directions of any police officer, firefighter or road crew flagger and follow all posted work zone advisories and signage. Temporary work zone signs are orange and commonly diamond-shaped. Construction zones may contain unusual vehicles or machinery that can divert a driver’s attention as well as traffic cones, barrels, flashing lights and concrete barriers. Drivers should be prepared to stop, slow down, shift lanes, merge and yield to the movement of construction workers and equipment. Motorists should not turn off their vehicles when stopped on the roadway unless they will be idling for a significant period of time.