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Construction Zone Driving Tips: Pay Attention & Follow Directions

construction work zone on road

In California, the highways are notorious for being constantly under construction. The I-5 in particular is ridiculed for its poor conditions that are worsened by construction equipment and delays. If you always regret driving through a construction zone because they seem both unavoidable and inherently more dangerous than other stretches of road, then taking some time to review safe driving tips should help.

Whenever you see a construction zone ahead, remember these five tips:

  • Slow down and don’t tailgate: Due to the busywork happening around the average roadside construction site, there is an inherently increased risk of getting into a crash. Whenever the road is unsafe, slowing down is a must. Driving slower increases the time you have to react to hazards. You should also be certain to avoid tailgating the driver in front of you. If they have to quickly stop to avoid a crash, then you need to be able to react as well.
  • Expect workers in the road: You might not see any construction workers as you approach a construction zone but that doesn’t mean they are not there. Assume that you will encounter a construction worker as you move through the area. Anticipate where they might be or where they might cross the road and be cautious.
  • Look for flaggers and listen: Many construction zones will include a flagger on staff. Flaggers use flags or other signs to catch the attention of motorists passing through and give them directions. Try to spot the flagger as you approach so you can prepare for their instructions. Listen and comply as closely as possible. They are directing you away from dangerous areas of the construction zone. You might take a brief detour, but it is well worth preserving your health and that of onsite workers.
  • Merge sooner than later: Roadside construction zones will sometimes block one or a few lanes along a highway. Vehicles will be forced to merge into the lanes that remain. If it is safe to do so, merge into an available lane as soon as you can. Waiting to merge until your lane ends can cause a traffic jam and dramatically increase the risks of a rear-end accident.
  • Remove distractions: Driving distractions are all the more dangerous when you are driving through a busy construction zone. Be sure to never use your smartphone. You might be tempted to try to use its GPS app to find a route around the construction zone, but this should not be done while your vehicle is in motion. If you can, pull over before entering the construction zone and check for alternate routes. You should also turn off the radio or music since auditory distractions can worsen your focus and reaction time.
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