Paving the Way: Ensuring Safety in Road Construction

If you spend any amount of time driving in Edmonton, you have likely encountered your fair share of road construction. As we head into warmer months, it is likely that you will see even more construction crews out working on the streets. This week, we want to chat more about road safety within construction zones and how to navigate them with caution. 


Road Construction Zones 

Work zones are hazardous for both motorists and the workers on site. Road construction zones are designed to provide advanced warning and limit the distance and speed at which passing vehicles approach workers and/or equipment.  


The USDOT and the Federal Highway Administration break the Stages of Work Zones down into 4 areas: 

  1. Advance warning area: tells traffic what to expect ahead
  2. Transition area: moves traffic out of the normal path
  3. Activity area: is where work takes place
  4. Termination area: lets traffic resume normal operations

The distance of each zone can be determined by several factors including the type of road (highway, single lane, side road, etc.), the equipment involved, the area (hazards) surrounding the zone, and the rate of speed the zone is limited by. 


“On average, over 700 fatalities occur in work zones each year.” 

-Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 


Tips to navigate construction zones safely 

To navigate road construction sites safely we must first understand the common factors that lead to accidents.


These can be due to the following: 

When approaching construction zones, drivers should do the following: 

  • Avoid changing lanes
  • If possible, look well ahead (beyond the car directly in front of them)
  • Be aware of their surroundings (including the traffic behind, or beside them)
  • Be prepared to make sudden stops
  • Slow down and adhere to marked signs: In 2020, nearly 300 people died in a work zone crash involving speeding
  • Always avoid distractions, and especially when travelling through work zones

When traveling through construction areas, pay close attention to all posted signs and look for Flaggers, whose directions supersede any posted or implied traffic signals. Workers on-site will be equipped with high visibility and reflective apparel and are easily identified. 

Before you leave, plan and research your route and map out an alternate route if possible, or plan accordingly for any upcoming detours. Allow yourself plenty of time so you aren’t rushing, which can often lead to accidents. 


Always practice patience when driving through work zones and always pay attention to your surroundings. Remember! The individuals working on the roads want to return to their family at the end of their shift, so don’t be the reason they won’t.

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