Standing next to the roadside is one of the most hazardous exposures in the construction industry. This is true on highways, county roads and city streets. Drivers run off the roadway for a number of reasons, including: distractions, drunk driving, excessive speed and inexperience. Thousands of crashes take place each year as a result of vehicles hitting mailboxes, trees, telephone poles, other vehicles and, unfortunately, human beings.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 5,687,000 vehicle crashes in 2013 resulting in 32,719 deaths. This statistic is thought provoking. That would be half the population of Terre Haute, Ind., or the full population of Beech Grove and Brownsburg, Ind. combined.
The NHTSA also reported that 4,735 people were killed standing on or near the roadway in 2013, and another 66,000 were seriously injured. Construction workers should take seriously the possibility that a vehicle may swerve to the side or completely leave the roadway at any time, and do everything in their power to avoid being hit.
Never let your work on or near roadways become so routine that you become complacent about your safety. The motoring public won’t always pay attention to or obey work zone laws. Practicing the following guidelines will help you manage your behavior and help keep you safe when working on or near a roadway:
- Never stand between the roadway and a vehicle to carry on a conversation. If a vehicle swerved off the road toward you, you would be sandwiched between the two vehicles with no escape route.
- Never turn your back to oncoming traffic. The ability to see an oncoming vehicle gives you the opportunity to move out of the way if necessary.
- Do not ignore traffic conditions or the work surroundings while talking on your cell phone. You may fail to notice the potentially dangerous actions of others if you’re distracted.
- Wait for large gaps in oncoming traffic before crossing travel lanes. A vehicle traveling 60 miles per hour covers 88 feet in one second. Give yourself enough time to clear the travel lane before the next vehicle approaches, and walk carefully to the other side. Don’t be in such a hurry that you risk losing your footing.
Vehicular traffic is part of our everyday experience in roadway work zones. Do your part to stay safe.