It goes without saying: safety is paramount for drivers and construction crews in a work zone. Construction projects are some of the most labor-intensive projects you and your team will undertake, which means there are plenty of things that can go south. Keen attention to detail will help keep both drivers and pedestrians safe when they’re traveling through or near road work or a construction zone, and we’ve assembled a few vital tips that you can follow to help your team stay safe when working on the road construction projects near traffic. Some of the ways to keep drivers safe in construction zones may seem obvious, but with any roadway project, it is easy to lose focus on areas such as safety procedures when the majority of the time and effort is spent on the primary aspect of the project—i.e. the physical work that needs to be completed.
1. Install Rumble Strips
There are a few certainties in life: death, taxes, and the fact that, inevitably, traffic will become backed up during road construction. A higher concentration of vehicles located in a smaller area increases the odds that there will be an accident due to drivers having to potentially stop unexpectedly. Luckily, installing rumble strips is a proven, cost-effective measure to help combat this. Essentially, rumble strips—raised pavement markings that are put down across both the full width of the road as well as perpendicular to the direction of traffic—are used to alert drivers to slow down and pay attention. We’ve all encountered rumble strips before, and there’s nothing else that can alert a driver to pay attention more than the loud rumble vibration underneath your vehicle when you drive over them.
2. Use Signage
Another great way to keep drivers and pedestrians safe in construction zones is simply to use signage. There are a plethora of different types of signage that can be utilized, including warning signs, flashing lights, customizable LED signs, pavement markings, and arrow boards. The point of signage is simple—you are relaying important safety messages to the drivers and they work very well in that regard. However, keep in mind that in some situations there can be extenuating circumstances that cause the driver to not be as attentive as they normally would be, which is why we recommend using signage in conjunction with as many other safety measures as you can under the budget of your particular project.
3. Place Traffic Cones & Construction Barrels
As far as being easy to implement, nothing beats the ease of use and flexibility of traffic cones and construction barrels. For starters, they can be used in a variety of different ways, such as blocking off entire sections of a roadway, aligning them in a way that they create a physical barrier between traffic and the construction workers themselves, or safely blockading problem areas on the road, such as an open ditch. The cones and barrels themselves are lightweight and durable, ensuring that the act of physically placing them on the roadway is a relatively simple and easy assignment.In addition, reflectors and various customized lighting can also be used in conjunction with them to increase visibility—and ultimately keep drivers and pedestrians alike as safe as possible.It’s important to note that although this article focuses on the safety of drivers and pedestrians that are passing through construction zones, all of these safety methods and tools ensure the safety of the construction workers themselves as well!
Sometimes drivers can be distracted and may not pay complete attention to inanimate objects like signs or barrels, and that’s okay. Luckily, employing the use of physical flaggers can completely change the way traffic flows through a construction zone simply because the drivers will be aware of the human being waving flags and directing traffic. To put it simply: drivers will hit construction barrels. Drivers will deal a glancing blow to a delineation cone. Drivers generally will not hit another human being with their vehicle—and that’s why flaggers are arguably the best way to minimize danger to drivers and pedestrians in construction zones.Granted, this is not the most cost-effective measure found on this list, but it may be the most effective.
5. Consider If Lane Closures Are Needed
Sometimes a construction process is so labor-intensive that there is no other choice but to consider if lane or road closures are needed to get the job done correctly and safely. Of course, it may be possible to keep roads open, but sometimes the level of repair needed on a roadway necessitates a full or partial closure.In any case, make sure that you assess the situation as a whole and weigh the pros and cons of such a decision. Assess the impact on the community, nearby businesses, and generally how much of a disruptor it would be if the project caused the entire road to close. As a general rule of thumb, road closures should be avoided if no logical detour exists for motorists, if it impedes voting access during election days, and if it restricts access to medical services. Using the information you have, make the best logical decision not just for your team, but for the community you’re working in.
Improve Your Construction Sites With The Right Tools
Roadway construction projects are a massive undertaking. Without a doubt, keeping drivers, pedestrians, and your fellow construction workers as safe as possible is just as important as the physical construction itself. And that’s why the preceding tips must be utilized in as many situations as possible—because at the end of the day, no construction project is worth it if there is nobody to drive down the roads themselves.Whether it’s installing temporary rumble strips, using more signage, utilizing well-placed traffic cones and construction barrels, having flaggers help direct the flow of traffic, or even completely closing down a roadway, there are always efficient, cost-effective ways to help keep everyone safe in a construction zone.