The National Work Zone Awareness Week is April 17-21 reminds motorists to be careful around those whose jobs put them along the roadways. Indiana’s electric cooperatives remind motorists work zones also include utility crews who also work along the roadsides to build, repair and maintain the highway of electric power lines.
“Power lines run alongside almost every highway and county road,” said Jon Elkins, vice president of safety, training, and compliance for Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “Most work on these lines is conducted from bucket trucks. While this is faster and safer than climbing poles, it puts our lineworkers and their equipment closer to moving traffic. We want to remind motorists crews can be working at all hours. So we ask them to please be careful when they see ‘Work Zone’ signs, flashing yellow lights, and flaggers.”
When motorists see the orange diamond-shaped work zone warning signs and vehicles with flashing amber lights, they should slow down and prepare for the zone ahead.
Indiana law requires motorists to approach cautiously and change lanes away from the emergency vehicles if they can do so safely. If not, they should reduce their speed to 10 mph under the posted speed limit and proceed with caution. Motorists should not stop in the roadway; this may cause a rear-end collision with other vehicles.
“Working on energized power lines at all hours and in all kinds of weather is dangerous enough for lineworkers,” added Elkins. “We ask folks to please not make it more dangerous by speeding so closely by them.”
Tips for driving safely in work zones
- Take extra care to pay attention and expect the unexpected. Work zone configurations can change without notice.
- Don’t text or talk on the phone and avoid taking your hands off the wheel.
- Watch for speed limit reductions, narrowing lanes, changing traffic patterns and highway workers.
- Respect the posted speed limits and safely merge as soon and as safely as possible. This will allow traffic to flow smoothly.
- Keep in mind: Driving 45 mph, instead of 55 mph, through a 5-mile work zone will only add 1.2 minutes to your trip. Speeding and aggressive driving are major causes of work zone crashes.
- Keep a safe distance on all sides of your vehicle and maintain a safe following distance. Rear-end collisions are the most common type of work zone crash.
- Respect the flaggers and obey their guidance. Be patient when driving through work sites with flagger control.
- Pay attention to the road signs. Those signs are carefully selected to give drivers accurate information and important warnings.
- Expect delays and allow extra travel time to travel through work zones.
- Select alternate routes if possible to avoid the work zone completely.
Slow down driving through work zones — it’s the law!
The Indiana Work Zone Safety Law sets steep penalties for driving infractions within highway work zones. Here are the consequences if you’re caught breaking the law:
- First time citations for speeding in a work zone result in a $300 fine. The fine increases to $500 for a second offense and $1,000 for a third offense within three years.
- Motorists who drive recklessly or aggressively through a work zone face fines up to $5,000.
- Drivers who injure or kill a highway worker may end up paying a $10,000 fine and serving up to six years behind bars.