Time to drive smart in construction zones

THE MERCURY HAS RISEN to summer temperature ranges, which means summer finally isn’t too far away.

That means plenty of summer activity lies ahead – and plenty of summer driving.

It also means, of course, plenty of summer road construction to impact our summer driving and summer activities.

The orange cones, barrels and caution signs are up all across the city, the county and the state as needed road work projects are underway. Drivers are already dealing with narrowed lanes, lane shifts, temporary pavements, reduced speeds, congestion and delays caused by these projects.

All of that can not be avoided. While roads and streets are built for the long haul, they are not – nor can they be – built for perpetuity. They do eventually wear down or wear out and when they do we all are left to deal with the impacts of repairing, upgrading or replacing them.

While construction season is an annoyance, it is also a necessity and, in the long run, a benefit – even though it may not seem that way at the moment if you’re stuck in traffic waiting for a flagman to let cars through a work zone.

At any rate, it is imperative that drivers be cognizant of, and make adjustments for, work zones and more importantly those who work in them.

Each year, more than 600 people die in highway work zone crashes across the country. In Wisconsin, there are an average of 10 fatalities and more than 750 injuries a year in construction zone accidents, and an average of more than 1,600 construction zone crashes a year.

Most of those could be avoided by drivers slowing down in construction zones and paying attention to changing road conditions, hazards, other traffic and most importantly, highway, law enforcement and emergency workers in those zones – all basic, common sense driving advice.

Nobody likes the inconvenience of road construction and the attendant detours and delays – especially in summer, when so many people are eager to get on their way to vacations, picnics, the beach and other fun outings.

But all those things we’re going to this summer will still be there after we get through the detours, delays and traffic backups caused by road work.

There are many ways to become aware of what kind of road work lies ahead on any road trip this summer, whether it’s on the internet or through the weekly updates printed in The Review and other local media.

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, effort and attention.

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