Safety is in the Communication Business

A recent road trip took me from Virginia to Missouri, and to Kansas. Along the way, I drove through more than my fair share of construction zones along the various highways. What I found was shocking and even ridiculous. In fact, there were no appreciable improvements from a similar trip I took a few years ago. As I drove through these construction zones, I found most were not completely set up. It was as if they started to put all the pieces together, but by the time they got to the end they were tired, ran out of material, or both. Many construction zones were not operating properly.

As I drove through these construction zones, I found most were not completely set up. It was as if they started to put all the pieces together, but by the time they got to the end they were tired or ran out of material, or both. Many construction zones were not operating properly.

I drove by several signs that stated that the construction zone was active when flashing lights were working. As I drove by the non-flashing signs I quickly found construction workers and equipment working away. In these areas the traffic didn’t slow down as required apparently because the lights were not flashing. This was in spite of the obvious workers and equipment.

I went through other work zones that stated that the work zone was active when flashing with only one or two of dozens of  lights flashing away and no construction workers or equipment to be found. Again the traffic did not slow down as required in spite of the flashing signs because the drivers somehow knew there was no workers or equipment there.

The one thing I found common through all the construction zones I drove through was that traffic did not slow down to the posted speed limit. Most drivers didn’t slow down at all while some drivers reduced their vehicle speed by 5-7 miles per hour, but nowhere near the construction zone speed limit.

The one thought I was left with is that it is a wonder that more construction workers aren’t killed while working on highway construction projects. The bottom line is that it takes both the proper use and maintenance of construction zones and drivers who will slow down to the posted speed limits while in the construction zone. I think the problem is that the highway construction crews do not appear to know that they are communicating with drivers through the signs and barricades. As I learned a long time ago, Safety is in the communication business. When it comes to highway construction safety zones the crews need to communicate the hazards and control measures properly so drivers are encouraged to reduce their driving speed when required.

About Fred Fanning Author

Fred Fanning spent over 20 years in the safety profession. His final safety position was as the Director of Occupational Safety and Health for the U.S. Department of Commerce. He began writing in 1994, published his first book in 1998, and began writing professionally in 2015. He has authored and coauthored articles, written books, and chapters for technical books and stories for anthologies.
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