Construction Zone Slow Down!

I live in the greater Toronto area, often referred to as the GTA. Residing in this area, I’m sure is very similar to life 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 road in North America. It carries more cars and trucks in an hour than any the other main 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 tremendous.  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 have 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 occurred is well marked. Signs are warning of upcoming construction start kilometers ahead of the development 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 countless dollars involved can be significantly reduced with a few simple steps taken by all drivers.


How to navigate a construction zone? The 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.


The second step,

slow down! Slow down as soon as you see the signs warning of construction ahead. Start easing up immediately on the accelerator. Slowing down does many things such as saving fuel and wear and tear on your brakes. It also puts you in the position that you can react appropriately should something go awry.


Step number three

Leave more space. Yes, leave even more room than normal. Maneuvering through a construction zone can be tricky so give yourself a little lecture to leave even more room 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.


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