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Slow Down: It's Work Zone Safety Awareness Week

Week encourages drivers to be more aware while passing through work zones

From a small internal campaign in Virginia to a national effort, National Work Zone Awareness Week kicked off its 11th year Monday.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration's website, the program aims to reduce the number of safety zone worker accidents by raising public awareness of safety zones. In Pennsylvania, 82 PennDOT employees have been killed on the job. Three were killed in 2010.

A press release by PennDOT explains, "The theme this year is 'Work Zones Need Your Undivided Attention,' and its emphasis is reminding motorists that driving safely in work zones is important for the protection of both the highway workers and the motorists alike.” A 2010 study from the U.S. Department of Transportation shows that work zone fatalities have dropped 39 percent -- from 1,186 in 2002 to 720 in 2008.

Roads being worked on currently in our area include:

  • Macungie: The Main Street Bridge along the 100 block of E. Main Street.

The Department of Transportation encourages drivers to "manage your 'S's'' in a work zone -- safety, speed and stress. A list, pulled from the PennDOT website, encourages drivers to:

  • Expect the unexpected. Normal speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be changed, and people and vehicles may be working on or near the road.
  • Stay alert. Diamond-shaped orange warning signs are generally posted in advance of road construction projects. Pay attention to the signs!
  • Watch for flaggers. In addition to other warning signs, a "flagger ahead" warning sign may be posted in the work zone. When you see this, stay alert and be prepared to obey the flagger's directions. In a work zone, a flagger has the same authority as a road sign, so you can be cited for disobeying his or her directions.
  • Calm down. Work zones aren't there to personally inconvenience you. They're necessary to improve the roads for everyone.
  • Merge as soon as possible. You may see flashing arrow panels or "lane closed ahead" signs. Don't zoom right up to the lane closure and then try to barge in. Motorists can help maintain traffic flow and posted speeds by moving to the appropriate lane at first notice of an approaching work zone.
  • Don't speed. A car traveling 60 mph goes 88 feet per second. If you're going 60 mph and you pass a sign that says "Road Work 1,500 feet," you'll be in that work zone in 17 seconds.
  • Don't tailgate. The most common crash in a highway work zone is the rear-end collision, so remember to leave three seconds of braking distance between you and the car in front of you. The amount of space needed for two seconds of stopping time will increase the faster you're driving!
  • Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and traffic barriers, trucks, construction equipment and workers. Just like you, highway workers want to return home safely.
  • Observe posted signs. Some work zones are mobile. For example: Line painting, road patching or mowing. They move down the road as the work is completed. Just because you don't see the workers immediately after you see the warning signs doesn't mean they're not there. Observe the signs until you see the one that says you've left the work zone.
  • Be patient. Expect delays, plan for them and leave early to reach your destination on time. Highway agencies use many different ways to inform motorists about the location and duration of major work zones. Often a detour may help you avoid the work zone altogether.

(List courtesy of PennDOT)

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