Car Safety Traveling Through Highway Construction Zones? How to Stay Safe and Sane
With the pandemic in retreat, more and more people are heading back out on the road, both to get back to work and to get back to play. With roughly $100 billion in public dollars spent each year on road and highway construction, the odds are pretty good that, if you drive at all, you’re going to drive through a construction zone or two at some point in the near future. Given that Americans were among the most stressed-out people in the world before Covid-19, here are a few work zone safety tips and some sanity tips to get you safely where you’re going when you have to travel through a highway construction zone.
There are few things as frustrating as running behind, and it doesn’t matter if you’re heading to a concert or running late for work. Add getting slowed down by construction traffic, and you have a recipe for disaster. With speeding a major factor in work zone accident fatalities, it’s important to give yourself plenty of time before setting out. That way, if you are slowed down by construction, you can follow the speed limit and avoid the temptation to speed or take other ill-advised driving risks.
There’s following the rules of the road, and then there’s practicing good driving etiquette. Doing both will keep you safe and sane in construction work zones. Here are some guidelines to follow:
1. Don’t Tailgate — Keep a Safe Driving Distance
Maintain a safe following distance (a three-second distance between your own vehicle and the one in front of you). Doing so will ensure the safety of you and those around you because it gives you enough time to react if the vehicle in front of you brakes or swerves suddenly.
2. Stay Off Your Cell Phone
While it’s not illegal in some states, talking or texting on your cell phone — especially when driving through a construction site —is a recipe for disaster. Never do it.
3. Follow Traffic Patterns
Pay close attention to all road signs and traffic pattern changes in construction zones. Changes in traffic patterns sometimes exist to prepare drivers for barricades or lane closures up ahead. Ignoring them for convenience is foolish; these changes are designed to keep you and construction workers safe.
You’ve seen the sign on interstates and highways, but have you ever bothered to tune your radio to the local station that fills drivers in on current traffic information? Whether you’re on a cross-country trip or just traveling for 20 minutes, if you’re on the highway, check in with the traffic info radio station so you’re prepared for any trouble up ahead.
As much as you’re able, limit distractions while driving through a work zone so you can give driving your full attention. Avoid changing radio stations. Don’t eat while driving. Have a delicious snack or audiobook on hand that you can cue up ahead of time for any children — or adults! — who may be inclined to compete with your attention.
Even when you prepare as best as you can, driving through highway road construction is stressful. If you find your blood pressure rising, and you’re struggling to stay calm, make sure your breathing is even and slow. Doing so can help lower your blood pressure and pull you into the present moment and out of the list of complaints in your mind.
It’s always smart to plan ahead, but when it comes to keeping your wits about you with kids in the car, it’s a necessity. Especially on road trips, compile a surprise goody bag before your trip that can keep your children entertained. New toys, games, books, and treasured treats will go a long way in keeping your emotional state even and pleasant when driving through stressful road work.
Traveling through road work isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time, but limiting the stress and danger it can bring is vital. Staying safe and sane when driving through construction zones won’t just help you avoid work zone crashes; it will also make the traveling itself more enjoyable.