Spring has arrived with its profusion of color: whites and pinks … and orange — lots of orange — as in the orange of work zones.
National Work Zone Awareness Week (April 17-21) reminds motorists to be careful around those whose jobs put them along the roadways. Indiana’s electric cooperatives remind motorists that work zones also include utility crews who work along the roadsides to build, repair and maintain the highway of electric power lines. Sometimes, crews can be around the next corner or just over the hill — day or night.
“While routine line work is done during daylight hours, emergencies happen at anytime,” said Jon Elkins, vice president of safety, training and compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “We want to remind motorists our crews can be working at all hours and to be careful when they see warning signs and flaggers.”
When motorists see the orange diamond-shaped work zone warning signs and vehicles with flashing amber lights, they should slow down and prepare for the zone ahead.
Indiana law requires motorists to approach cautiously and change lanes away from emergency vehicles if they can do so safely. If not, they should reduce their speed to 10 mph under the posted speed limit and proceed with caution. Motorists should not stop in the roadway; this may cause a rear-end collision with other vehicles.
Emergency vehicles protected by the law include:
- Police vehicles
- Fire trucks and rescue equipment
- Highway incident-response vehicles
- Highway maintenance vehicles
- Utility service vehicles
- Tow trucks
Violating the law can result in a fine and a suspended license. Steeper penalties, including jail time, are enforced for infractions within work zones.
Though move-over laws are only for emergency vehicles, drivers should always be courteous to those parked on the shoulder. Give them room to safely repair their vehicles and help prevent tragedies.
SOURCES: Indiana State Police, Workzonesafety.org, moveoverlaws.com
Tips for driving safely in work zones
- Take extra care to pay attention and expect the unexpected. Work zone configurations can change without notice.
- Don’t text or talk on the phone and avoid taking your hands off the wheel.
- Watch for speed limit reductions, narrowing lanes, changing traffic patterns and highway workers.
- Respect the posted speed limits and merge as soon and as safely as possible. This will allow traffic to flow smoothly.
- Keep in mind: Driving 45 mph, instead of 55 mph, through a 5-mile work zone will only add 1.2 minutes to your trip. Speeding and aggressive driving are major causes of work zone crashes.
- Keep a safe distance on all sides of your vehicle and maintain a safe following distance. Rear-end collisions are the most common type of work zone crash.