Driver Safety in Work Zones

Recent high-profile accidents in work zones across the country are lending increased scrutiny to driver behavior in these work zones – not to mention increasing fines and penalties for drivers that violate work zone speed limits.

In the state of Texas, for instance, there are nearly15,000 crashes and 100 deaths resulting from high construction or maintenance zones each year. Driver inattention and failure to follow speed limits are the leading causes of these fatalities.

TheFederal Highway Administration reports that over a five year period between 2007 and 2012 there were 4,400 deaths resulting from work zone crashes. 85 percent of these fatalities were either the driver or passenger. There were also 200,000 people injured in these accidents. Rear-end crashes were the most common according to the report and the highest number of fatalities occurred on roads where speed limits exceeded 50 miles per hour.

Critical Safety Information for Fleet Owners

Everyone understands the frustrations of being held up by slow work zone traffic, but the zones exist for the safety of workers in those zones as well as drivers on the roads around them. That’s why it’s so important to create policies for your fleet drivers that address their actions and safety when driving in these work zones for their safety, the safety of others on the road, and the sake of your business.

The FHA, states that a fully loaded 80,000 pound tractor-trailer requires 50 percent more stopping distance than standard passenger vehicles which require 300 feet on dry roads, 400 feet on wet roads, and over 1,250 feet on icy roads at 50 miles per hour. That means that tractor-trailer drivers need the following distances between them and the next car when traveling at 50 miles per hour.

450 feet – dry roads
600 feet – wet roads
1,875 feet – icy roads

You should also consider creating policies for your drivers that specifically address construction zone behaviors. Your cargo will not reach its destination any faster if there’s an accident along the way. In fact, it may take even longer to get there than it would if your driver was practicing safer driving practices, like the following.

  • Obey posted speed limits.
  • Merge into proper lanes well ahead of closures or exits.
  • Don’t follow too closely behind other vehicles.
  • Keep lights on while driving.
  • Pay attention to brake lights ahead.
  • Minimize distractions.
  • Eliminate cell phone use while driving.
  • Drive defensively, keeping an eye out for signs of trouble on the roads at all times.

It’s important for your business to take a stand on the side of safety for all drivers in your fleet. Regardless of your best effort to keep things safe in work zones and out, the unexpected does happen. Protect your business interests with an adequate amount of business auto insurance coverage for those occasions.