While spring continues to struggle to take hold, highway crews are looking at the calendar to signal the start of summer construction season.
The cold weather might not be the best for paving, but it still gives workers the opportunity to bring out the dreaded orange construction barrels. Four-lane highways have suddenly been cut down to one lane in each direction. Detour signs have been posted and drivers have suddenly found themselves running way behind schedule.
The need to rush can lead even the most patient of us to ride the bumper of the car that is ahead of us. That is the No. 1 reason for accidents in construction zones.
Last year was particularly dangerous, and work zone-related accidents happened at a record level in Ohio. There were 6,574 crashes last year, which resulted in 1,121 injuries and 16 deaths, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, meanwhile, reported 1,804 work zone crashes that resulted in 23 fatalities for 2018. And the West Virginia Department of Highways reported that during the past five years, there have been 1,794 reported crashes that led to 15 fatalities.
Traffic is slowed in a construction zone for a reason. Construction vehicles are pulling onto and off the highway. There are workers and heavy equipment operating sometimes just feet from the open lanes of travel.
Drivers have to be alert when traveling through a work zone. That means allowing enough distance between vehicles so a sudden stop can be made without a wreck.
Pay close attention to the instructions of flaggers and construction zone signs that warn or advise a motorist of what to expect in the work zone.
Remember, speeding violations can be very costly in a construction zone.
Everyone complains about the condition of area roads and bridges and work is under way to make repairs.
But patience and safe driving go hand in hand with late spring and summer road construction.