Constructions Zone – Slow Down!

I live in the greater Toronto area, often referred to as the GTA. Living in this area I’m sure is very similar to living in any major populated city in North America. But one of the issues that might make traffic unique is our major highway. The 401 is said to be the busiest stretch of highway in North America. It carries more cars and trucks in an hour than any other major roadway. With this kind of traffic, it is not unusual that maintenance must take place 12 months of the year.

Recently the highway has been closed for two collisions that involve both tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles. The loss of life has been large. Several people are no longer with us because of these crashes and some of the dead were children. The collisions that I’m referring to both happened in a construction zone.

The preliminary reports as to the cause of the accidents in these construction zones are the same for each collision. The driver of a tractor-trailer it would appear was not paying attention and traveling too fast in the work area. The tractor-trailer rear-ended vehicles.

What are the costs of these types of collisions? The loss of life of the victims of the crash is tragic. Sometimes a workman dies in a construction zone due to the actions of drivers. The first responders that see the horrific scene and try to extricate the victims from the mangled metal often suffer from PTSD. These are only some of the costs; the human costs. These collisions may have been preventable had the drivers taken simple appropriate steps.

The construction zone where these crashes have taken place is well marked. Signs warning of upcoming construction start kilometers ahead of the construction area. Drivers have been warned but they failed to take appropriate action. What will it take to have all drivers, but especially truck drivers, take construction zones more seriously? The loss of life and the untold dollars involved can be greatly reduced with a few simple steps taken by all drivers.

How to navigate a construction zone? First step, be alert. This step applies to all driving. Drivers and operators of equipment always need to be alert but in construction zones things can happen quickly with dire consequences. Many of the collisions happen as all the traffic gets funneled into fewer lanes. Drivers are impatient and often will cut off a tractor-trailer just to get ahead of them. So the professional truck driver needs to be alert and more patient than car drivers. Especially in construction zones, truck drivers must be polite and let those cars in willingly.

Second step, slowdown! Slow down as soon as you see the signs warning of construction ahead. Start easing up immediately on the accelerator. This does many things such as saving fuel and wear and tear on your brakes. It also puts you in the position that you are able to react appropriately should something go awry.

Step number three. Leave more space. Yes, leave even more space than normal. Maneuvering through a construction zone can be tricky so give yourself a little lecture to leave even more space than normal which can help relieve your stress and allow you to drive while maintaining your composure and with less aggravation.

Pay close attention to what is in front of you but never forget about your mirrors. You need to be checking your mirrors frequently for those around you who are being aggressive and impatient. They may inadvertently involve you in a collision while you are behaving correctly.

The purpose of this article is to plead for truck drivers to be more aware in construction zones. Slow down and leave more space in work areas. The loss of life recently in the GTA area has been front-page news. They used to say that there are two seasons, winter and construction. But with advances made in technology the construction season seems to be lasting 12 months of the year now so we are never truly out of it.

Drivers please, slow down; leave more space and get home to the ones you love.

Drive safe out there.

Chris Harris
Safety Dawg , Safety Dawg Inc.
@safety_dawg (twitter)

About Chris Harris, Safety Dawg

Chris has been involved in trucking most of his adult life. He drove truck for and worked in various office/management positions for a major truck company. His last position of 5 years in the safety department where he was responsible for the recruiting of Owner Operators and their compliance. He joined a trucking insurance company in 2001 and has been in the insurance side of things until making Safety Dawg a full-time endeavour.