By Mark Engholm
As Kansans, we enjoy one of the best road systems in the United States. However, in order to maintain our excellent road system we must deal with the frustration of highway work zones. But for road workers, a work zone isn’t an annoyance--it’s dangerous. Construction workers regularly deal with traffic whizzing by a few feet from their “office,” and they rely on orange cones and speed limit signs to protect them. While drivers deal with detours and slower traffic, road workers are risking their lives on our highways.
Some key safety tips to remember in highway construction and maintenance zones:
Follow the signs. Following the directions posted on orange construction signs will keep workers--and you--safe. Even when work isn’t in progress, Kansas law requires that you obey all posted signs.
Don’t assume they see you! When repaving or repairing roads, a worker’s environment is dusty, loud, and very close to passing traffic. These unprotected workers are focused on their jobs, so it’s up to you to focus on safety: Never assume workers will step out of the way of your car.
Follow the lines. Work zones often have temporary lines on the road redirecting the flow of traffic. Look out for shifting or merging lanes, particularly if you drive this road often--you may be tempted to “autopilot” your way through.
Obey the work zone speed limit . Depending on sight distances and the type of work being done, the construction speed limit could be much lower than the normal highway limit. Don’t risk it—slow down!
No distractions! While driving through a work zone, you should limit distractions. Eating, talking on the phone, listening to music and drinking coffee can take valuable seconds off your response time.
The Kansas Highway Patrol partners with the Kansas Department of Transportation to provide Troopers to patrol highway work zones statewide. Our Troopers work diligently to enforce traffic laws in work zones and provide a safe environment for highway workers and drivers traveling on our highways.
Mark Engholm is a Technical Trooper for the Kansas Highway Patrol