ALBANY, N.Y.—New York State Department of Transportation Commission Joan McDonald kicked off the highway and bridge construction season on Tuesday.
McDonald kicked off the season with a message to New York motorists to use caution in highway maintenance and construction work zone.
"The cost of speeding through a highway work zone could be as simple as a traffic ticket with a heavy fine – or it could be as costly as taking your own life or the life of one of our construction workers. Motorists must slow down and pay extra attention when driving through work zones," said McDonald.
April 7 through 11 has been designated as National Work Zone Awareness Week by the Federal Highway Administration.
"As construction season ramps up across New York, the State Police ask all drivers to watch their speed, especially in work zones. Our Troopers work hard every day to keep our roadways safe - not only for the people who drive them, but also for those who work on them. We encourage all drivers to stay alert, slow down, and put your electronic devices away," said New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico.
NYSDOT recommends that motorists observe the following ten safety tips essential for safe driving in highway construction work zones:
1. Expect the unexpected. In any work zone along any road, normal speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be changed, and people and vehicles may be working on or near the road.
2. Slow down, be alert and pay attention to the signs. Diamond-shaped orange warning signs are posted in advance of road construction projects.
3. Remember, a flagger has the same authority as a regulatory sign. In addition to other warning signs, a "flagger ahead" warning sign may be posted in the work-zone. When you see this, stay alert and be prepared to obey the flagger's directions. In a work-zone, you can be cited for disobeying his or her directions.
4. Stay calm. Work-zones aren't there to inconvenience you; they are necessary to improve the roads for everyone.
5. Merge as soon as possible. You may see flashing arrow panels or "lane closed ahead" signs. Don't zoom right up to the lane closure and then try to barge in; if everyone cooperates, traffic moves more efficiently. Motorists can help maintain traffic flow and posted speeds by moving to the appropriate lane at first notice of an approaching work zone.
6. Slow down when the signs say to. A car traveling 60 miles per hour travels 88 feet per second. If you are going 60 mph and you pass a sign that states "Road Work 1500 feet," you will be in that work zone in 17 seconds.
7. Leave two-seconds of braking distance between you and the car in front of you. The most common crash in a highway work zone is the rear-end collision, so remember the amount of space required to provide two seconds of stopping time will increase the faster you are driving.
8. Keep a safe distance. Make space between vehicle and traffic barriers, trucks, construction equipment and workers. Just like you, highway workers want to return home safely after each day's work.
9. Observe posted work zone signs until you see the one that states you've left the work zone. Some work zones, such as for line painting, road patching, and mowing are mobile, moving down the road as work is finished. Just because you do not see workers immediately after you see the warning signs, does not mean they are not out there.
10. Plan ahead and try an alternate route. Highway agencies use different ways to inform motorists about the location and duration of major work zones. Often, they will suggest a detour to help you avoid the work zone entirely.