Work Zone Safe Driving Guide for Truckers

Work Zone Safe Driving Guide for Truckers

Driving in road construction areas can be among the most dangerous type of driving you will encounter.

Spring means warmer weather is here and construction projects begin to improve America’s roadways.

With the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in affect, the trucking industry will see a lot of mega projects on the roads, with $110 billion going to repair and rebuild roads and bridges.

For example, the Brent Spence Bridge is a six-year construction project in Kentucky over the Ohio River that will add a second span west of the original bridge for use by local traffic and add new lanes to a five-mile stretch of Kentucky highway and a one-mile piece of the Ohio highway approaching the bridge.

Construction work zones, with their restrictive space and high level of activity, are high risk areas for serious accidents and injuries.

As a truck driver, it is best to plan your trip before setting out on the road. To start you would need to research your route and, when possible, avoid work zones and use any detours that are available. 

Let’s discuss safe driving techniques when approaching, traveling though, and dealing with aggressive drivers around construction work zones.

Driving Safely Though Construction Work Zones

Work zones often include lane closures and narrow or shifting lanes with travel conditions that may change on a daily or weekly basis.

On average, over 700 fatalities occur in work zones each year. In 2020, large trucks made up nearly one-third of fatal work zone crashes.

Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and passenger vehicle drivers both need to be particularly careful while traveling through work zones as large trucks and buses have limited maneuverability and large blind spots, both of which make operating in these areas more challenging.

When entering the work zone:

  • Approach with care and caution,
  • Use four-way flashers when stopped or traveling slowly,
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop,
  • Move into the open lane as soon as possible,
  • Pay attention to vehicles around you that could be in your blind spot,
  • Watch for traffic control signs and road workers,
  • Do not pass vehicles in a work zone,
  • Avoid distractions such as your phone, eating, or programming your GPS

When traveling through a work zone:

  • Increase your awareness for road workers and other vehicles,
  • Maintain a safe following distance as most work zone crashes are rear-end crashes,
  • Don’t let distractions interfere with your safe driving,
  • Understand your situation and tight driving conditions,
  • Stay as far away as possible from road workers,
  • Turn on your headlights if signs instruct you to do so

When dealing with aggressive drivers in a work zone:

  • Be constantly aware of your immediate driving situation,
  • Be cautious of speeding motorists approaching you,
  • Be aware of tailgaters,
  • If being tailgated, carefully reduce speed, and allow the other car to pass (if possible)

It is important to note that each scenario mentions reducing your speed. Lane closures, traffic pattern shifts and reduced speeds are common in work zones.

This is not just important for safety but will reduce the chances of speeding violations and fines that negatively affect your CSA scores, insurance premiums, and broker relationships.

Be aware of speed enforcement in work zones

Work Zone Safe Driving Guide for Truckers

Many states that want to maintain and improve roads and bridges use work zone speed enforcement programs to target speeding and unsafe driving vehicles for violations and fines.

For example, Pennsylvania has a three-year-old Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement pilot program that hopes to decrease distracted driving and speeding in work zones.

The program uses portable automated speed enforcement systems to provide enforcement of excessive speeding (11+ mph) in active work zones.

In 2022, Pennsylvania’s Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement program completed its second full calendar year of operation, fulfilling their program goals to:

  • Reduce speeds in work zones. During 2022’s primary construction months (April – October), speeding in AWZSE enforced work zones has been reduced to 17.2% of all traffic, and excessive speeding (11+ mph over the posted speed limit) has been reduced to 2.6% since the start of the program.
  • Promote work zone safety. Pennsylvania has experienced a reduction in work zone crashes since the start of the program as national and overall Pennsylvania crash trends increased over this same period.
  • Improve driver behavior. Measured, sustained speed reductions have been observed in AWZSE enforced work zones, with smaller (but measurable) reductions at times when AWZSE is not in effect in those zones.
  • Save worker and traveler lives. Since the program began, fatalities in work zones have increased nationally while Pennsylvania work zones have had a slight decrease.
  • Complement existing speed enforcement by the Pennsylvania State Police. In 2022, Pennsylvania State Police supported 84 projects for $4.4 million. This support was for work activities where PSP presence remains the most effective tool to enhance safety.

Since the start of enforcement in March 2020 through the end of 2022, the program has completed 8,868 deployments and issued over 1 million notices of violation, collecting over $7 million in fine remittance.

You can see a mobile-compatible map and table is available here.

Also, in Pennsylvania, all motorists are required to travel with their headlights turned on in all posted work zones, not just active work zones. It is necessary for drivers in vehicles with daytime running lights to turn on their headlights to activate their taillights.

How can I stay compliant?

As a Motor Carrier, it is your responsibility to ensure that your drivers are trained properly and that starts with hiring good drivers.

This means you need to take the steps to smoothly manage the compliance requirements in DQ files, new driver on-boarding, driver safety training, drug testing, and more.

CNS knows this is a lot to manage, which is why our DOT Compliance Specialists have developed several DOT Compliance Programs focused on Proactive Safety Management (PSM), a mindset that will ensure your fleet’s safety and compliance is always in order and ahead of the FMCSA.

Our PSM Motor Carrier Program includes:

  • ELD management
  • Driver Qualification File Management
  • New driver on-boarding
  • Driver safety meetings
  • CSA score management
  • Policies and handbooks
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • and more

Learn more about our DOT Compliance Programs

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

Questions about DOT Compliance, Licensing, Audits, Programs, etc.?

Our DOT Specialists are here to help!

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