For safety sake, watch your speed in work zones

Even with lighter traffic, slow down around work crews

PHOENIX – Freeway construction crews have a message for drivers tempted to speed when they find themselves on freeways that have lighter traffic these days: Slow down.

Work zone 1 41420The Arizona Department of Transportation’s workers and contractors are continuing improvement projects on state highways while many people are at home during the current public health situation. Work continues on Interstate 10 in Phoenix and Tucson, on Loop 101 in the Phoenix area and elsewhere across Arizona, with ADOT able to expand the hours of some projects because of the lighter traffic.

Speed limits in work zones are reduced for the safety of both workers and drivers, said Dallas Hammit, ADOT’s state engineer and deputy director for transportation.

“There often are fewer lanes open, and drivers need to slow down so they can adjust to lane closures and other restrictions they aren’t used to,” Hammit said. “They also need to give themselves time to react if another driver changes lanes because they weren’t aware of a lane restriction.”

The danger crews face is real and fresh in their minds. In March, Frank Dorizio of ADOT’s Incident Response Unit was struck and killed by a car that veered out of travel lanes while he was setting up signs alerting drivers to pavement repairs along I-10 south of Phoenix.

Those stopped by law enforcement for speeding in work zones can face substantial fines, often more than standard speeding fines.

“Troopers take a zero-tolerance stance to speeding in a construction zone,” said Lt. Col. Jenna Mitchell, assistant director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Highway Patrol Division. “Everyone plays a part in public safety, and we ask drivers to slow down and be courteous so everyone can get home safely.”

Following these work zone safety tips from azdot.gov/WorkZone may save your life and the lives of road workers and others:

  • Pay attention: Observe and obey posted warning signs, as well as flaggers. You can be cited for disobeying a flagger’s directions.
  • Expect the unexpected: Speed limits might be lowered, travel lanes could be narrowed or eliminated and people may be working near your travel lane.
  • Slow down: Speeding is one of the leading causes of work zone crashes.
  • Merge safely: Do it early and carefully or as directed by signage instead of barging into a line of vehicles at the last moment.
  • Don’t tailgate: The most common crash in a work zone is the rear-end collision. Don’t follow too closely and, again, slow down.