Work zones require more attentive driving

WITH WINTER NOW BEHIND us and spring settled in, it’s time to look forward to our next season – summer, yes, but also road construction season.

While road work projects have not yet begun in Plymouth or Sheboygan County, they have already started nearby and in other parts of the state. They will be coming to our county soon enough – it’s as inevitable as green leaves on the trees.

Driving is a task that requires full attention and concentration under all conditions – something that too many drivers forget, all too frequently.

But that’s especially true in construction zones that can mean narrowed lanes, lane shifts, two-way traffic on what is normally a divided highway, temporary pavements, reduced speeds and night work.

That demands the utmost attention from drivers, as situations can change and hazards can be present.

Work zones can also feature men and women working in exposed situations, in extremely close proximity to passing traffic. That makes paying attention all the more important and vital.

Earlier this month, Gov. Scott Walker declared Work Zone Awareness Week as part of the effort to prevent traffic crashes, deaths and injuries in construction and maintenance areas along Wisconsin roadways.

There have been more than 2,000 work zone crashes in each of the last three years, with more than 2,800 in 2016. That’s an average of more than seven each day of the year – far, far too many. In 2016, work zone crashes resulted in nine fatalities and

1,110 injuries.

“Each incident is a painful reminder that it only takes a matter of seconds or a small misjudgment to create a tragedy on our highways,” Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Dave Ross stated. “A lot can happen – fast – even at a reduced speed in a work zone, so it’s very important to eliminate distractions, slow down and avoid tailgating. Remember that even at the reduced speed of 55 mph, your car will cover the length of a football field in four seconds. It’s important to stay focused, giving your undivided attention to the road.”

Wisconsin’s Move Over law helps protect workers by requiring drivers to shift lanes if possible or slow down in order to provide a safety zone for law enforcement vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks, tow trucks, highway maintenance and utility vehicles that are on the side of a road with their warning lights flashing.

The delays caused by work zones are never welcome, but it is something we all have to deal with if we want safe, smooth and efficient highways to drive on.

It only takes a little advanced planning to adjust schedules to cope with road work and still reach a destination on time.

If it saves even one life and prevents one accident in a work zone, it is more than worth the extra time and effort. Taking a little time and using a lot of caution in work zones ensures the safety not only of construction workers but of yourself, your passengers and other drivers and passengers on the road.

It may cost a little more time to slow down, use caution and be attentive in construction zones, but the cost of not doing so is so much greater.

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Bitter Neumann