Road Construction Safety
Maine is a popular summer vacation destination and this sometimes leaves our roadways a bit overcrowded. Further congesting the roadways in the summer months are numerous State, County & Municipal road maintenance and construction operations. Some of these projects can last several weeks and some only last hours but all of them pose significant dangers to the motoring public as well as to the workers on site. How dangerous you ask? On average there are 2 deaths and 674 work zone vehicle accidents per year in Maine. These numbers could easily be reduced by applying the simple suggestions below:
Works zones and sites are marked well in advance both time wise and distance wise. Take the opportunity to slow your vehicle before you enter any marked work zone. Roadways narrow and traffic lanes can shift abruptly. Slowing down and allowing plenty of room between you and the vehicles around you will enable you to safely navigate any unanticipated changes in the roadway. In the State of Maine a speeding violation in a work zone is subject to a doubled fine whether the workers are present or not.
Pay attention to signs in advance of the work zone as they often give important information regarding the layout and if nothing else they give you the opportunity to be prepared. Start looking ahead for signs of workers, brake lights on the cars ahead of you or cars making abrupt lane changes. Drivers routinely passing through long term projects often become complacent but as the work site evolves so do the hazards, so always expect the unexpected in a work zone.
Devices like cell phones, Blackberries, I Pods, etc. are distractions even under the best of conditions and should be turned off and put away when going through a construction zone. Likewise, eating or drinking should be avoided too. Even at low speeds you need to give driving your complete and total attention as doing so can be critical to getting through a work zone safely and doing so may even be life saving while traveling through these work sites.
BE AWARE OF WEATHER
Inside the work zone rain can make conditions very slippery when rainwater mixes with the dirt and debris surrounding and in the work area. Likewise, conditions can deteriorate quickly due to heavy rain that causes washouts or potholes. Wind can cause signs and cones to tip over or shift. So be aware that everything may not be accurately marked during a storm.
There is a short season in Maine for all the work that needs to be done to Maine's roadways. As a result, in the summer you can expect to be delayed by construction work and should plan your trip accordingly. Prior to your trip consult with the Department of Transportation's travel information site www.511maine.gov or simply dial 511.