The two most dreaded words that drivers will hear every summer are “expect delays.”
This is because, in addition to summer being a prime time for more people to get out and drive, it’s also when many states get going on improving their roads. This means you’ll more than likely encounter slow-downs and back-ups, plus detours and construction zones.
These situations can be frustrating but also a chance to try out some skills you may have learned in a defensive driving course. These can include being aware of autos around you, giving people a safe distance, and most importantly, to be patient.
In fact, if someone was to make a list of the top 9 most annoying traffic violations drivers commit, most of them would or could take place in construction areas.
1. Confusion. For some major projects, new road surfaces or highway on- and off-ramps are being constructed, so regular roads will be re-routed and throw everyone off their game, whether you’re passing through for the first time or usually know the roadway.
2. Too fast. Construction zones typically lower speed limits because of the extra challenges in navigating it and to be careful around the construction personnel. There are fines for violators, often as high as triple the usual amount.
3. Inattention. In construction “season,” the typical two-or three-lane road may no longer apply. Lanes may shrink to one, be routed close to the other direction or stop altogether. There will be signage and warnings but it helps to expect the unexpected.
4. Quick stops. If both directions of travel are being worked on at the same time, there is a possibility of one group of cars being allowed to go while the other group waits, often directed by construction/traffic personnel. In these cases, lines of traffic may start and stop quickly.
5. Too slow. After a construction zone ends, traffic flow is supposed to resume, including posted standard speed limits. But someone who made sure to keep things nice and slow in the construction area may not notice the change and keep at the same slow pace, much to the aggravation of people behind him or her who are ready to go fast again.
6. Too long of a wait. Any unexpected wait is too long but during construction season there’s a possibility of extra-long delays. Some may be due to limited access ahead, the movement of larger construction vehicles and equipment, or even activity like blasting.
7. Too unprepared. It’s smart to plan your route based on distance between places like gas stations, bathrooms, or food stops. But summertime construction zones can add considerable time to your daily itinerary, such as delays of hours, so there’s a real possibility of unexpectedly running out of gas, needing food or not having a bathroom. Proper preparation can include learning about upcoming construction zones and estimated delays and planning accordingly. Consider having your emergency kit stocked, which can include food, water, and a full gas can in your car for circumstances like these.
8. Ignoring people. When the construction crew tells lines of cars to slow or stop, they’re doing it for a reason, not to mess with drivers. That reason usually is their safety and your safety.
9. Too rushed. Someone truly in a hurry or behind schedule may simply get more and more frustrated at the wait. But they will be still waiting alongside people who are cool with waiting.
Overall, driving in construction zones can be a test of patience and defensive driving skills, including following instructions.