Driving on Snow and Ice

Originally published 01/20/2016

The best advice for driving on snow and ice is to avoid it if you can. If you can’t, it’s important to make sure your vehicle is prepared, and that you know how to handle the road conditions. The following tips will help make your drive safer on snow and ice.

Driving safely on icy roads:

  • Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding.
  • Turn on your lights so that other drivers can see you.
  • Keep your lights and windshield clean.
  • Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  • Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  • Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads. These areas will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas.
  • Don’t pass snow plows and sand trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind them.
  • Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

If your vehicle starts to skid:

  • Remain calm.
  • Take your foot off the accelerator.
  • If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
  • If you have anti-lock brakes, do not pump them, but apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse; this is normal.
  • Steer to safety.

If you get stuck:

  • Use a light touch on the gas to ease your car out.
  • Don’t spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
  • You may want to try rocking the vehicle. Give a light touch on the gas pedal and then release it. Repeating this action will start a rocking motion and could free your vehicle.
  • If necessary, use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the vehicle.
  • Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels to increase traction.

Keep in mind that winter brings adverse weather conditions. Be prepared to operate your vehicle in a defensive manner, and watch out for other vehicles on the road. Driving on snow and ice can be tricky, but can be done safely. Remember: Think safety and act safely.

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Fall Driving Hazards

Originally published 10/25/2016

Most construction companies have a safety goal of “everybody goes home safe” and “come to work safe.” This motto encompasses driving to and from work as well as any driving performed while on the job.

Many people think that the most dangerous season for driving is the winter. However, a 2009 study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Safety Institute in Ann Arbor revealed that the most dangerous season for driving is actually fall. The study discovered that the danger of dying in a car crash is 16 percent greater in October than in March. With the most dangerous driving season up on us, here are some key factors to consider.

  • Leaves – as leaves begin to fall, there are several things to think about.
    • Wet leaves are slippery and can reduce traction.
    • They can cover the yellow and white pavement markings on the road making it difficult to determine shoulder and lane widths.
    • They can get clogged under wiper blades, impeding wiper performance and visibility.
    • Parking too close to a leaf pile can be a fire hazard with catalytic converters.
  • Deer – deer collisions are most common in fall due to mating season, hunting season and the reduced hours of daylight.
    • Pay attention to deer crossing signs. They were put there for a reason. These areas have had high rates of car/deer collisions.
    • If a collision is unavoidable, hit the deer. This is safer than skidding off the road into trees and ditches.
    • Be aware that deer sometimes retrace their steps. They will cross the road, then cross back over in the same spot.
    • If you see one deer, be prepared for others. They usually travel in groups.
  • Farm Machinery – farmers harvesting will be on the roads.
    • Watch for slow-moving vehicles. A slow-moving vehicle sign is a reflective orange triangle with a red border. It warns other drivers that the vehicle displaying the sign is traveling at 25 mph or less.
    • Make sure the drivers of farm vehicles can see you.

Other fall driving hazards include:

  • Frozen bridges – Bridges freeze before the rest of the road because they are exposed to weather on both the top and the bottom. Use caution when transitioning from the pavement to a bridge surface.
  • Black Ice – Use extreme caution when driving on cold mornings where there is evidence of frozen moisture on the roadway.
  • Rain – Early fall storms are worse from a driver’s perspective because highways have a summers worth of oil and rubber buildup on the road and can become extremely slick when suddenly soaked.
  • Hydroplaning – If you feel like you are hydroplaning, steer straight and gently back off the throttle until you feel the tires make contact with the road.
  • Fog – This is statistically the single-most dangerous condition a driver can encounter. In dense fog, turn on your low beam headlamps, slow down to a crawl if necessary, and use extreme caution.

Winter months are synonymous with cautious driving. However, being cautious in every season could save a life.

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INDOT Media Advisory: State Pilots Technology-Driven Approach to Overweight Vehicle Enforcement

Credit: Indiana Department of Transportation

CHESTERTON, Ind. – The Indiana Department of Transportation, Indiana Department of Revenue, Indiana State Police, Purdue University, and Kapsch TrafficCom will launch Indiana’s Direct Weigh In Motion and Credential Enforcement Pilot Program on Friday, June 10, 2016 at 10 a.m. CDT along Interstate 94 in Northwest Indiana.

The program uses cutting edge enforcement technology that holds the potential to extend highway pavement life, capture fees now being evaded, increase truck compliance, and enhance safety.

What: Launch of Indiana’s Overweight Vehicle & Credential Enforcement Pilot Program

Who: Brandye Hendrickson, Commissioner of Indiana Department of Transportation
James Poe, Deputy Commissioner of Indiana Department of Revenue
Kim Judge, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Administrator at Indiana State Police
Gary Langston, President of Indiana Motor Truck Association
Steve Sprouffske,  ‎Manager of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement at Kapsch TrafficCom

When: Friday, June 10, 2016 at 10 a.m. CDT
10 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. – Remarks from speakers
10:20 a.m. to 10:25 a.m. – System explanation
10:25 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. – Interactive demonstrations

Where: Chesterton Weigh Station, eastbound I-94 at milepost 28 in Porter County, Ind.

Flagger Safety

Work zone flaggers are the first line of defense for road construction workers and are there to help protect the public. It is a critical and dangerous job. Because they are the ones that deal with the speeding, distracted or sometimes angry driver, they must also know how to protect themselves while on the job.

What flaggers should do to protect themselves:

  • Most importantly, all flaggers should have the appropriate flagger training and have periodic refresher training.
  • Wear high-visibility clothing such as orange, yellow or green vests. Use retro-reflective vests at night.
  • Wear other protective equipment such as hard hats, long-sleeved shirts and pants, safety footwear and eyewear.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather.
  • Stay alert and out of harm’s way by following these guidelines:
    • Stand alone on the shoulder in clear view.
    • Never stand in the open traffic lane.
    • Plan an escape route for emergencies.
    • Stay alert and focused on your work.
    • Make sure your hand signals don’t conflict with the traffic signals.
    • Treat motorists with respect and courtesy. Don’t pick fights or respond in anger. If a driver is a problem, record the make, model and license number of the car, and report the incident to law enforcement.
    • If a driver violates your warnings and trespasses your flagging station, warn the other workers in the work zone. Establish a warning signal ahead of time for the work crew in case of an emergency.

Dangerous behaviors flaggers should avoid:

  • Standing where you can be crushed;
  • Standing in the shade, over the crest of a hill or around a sharp curve;
  • Leaving your position until properly relieved;
  • Standing near equipment;
  • Standing in a group;
  • Participating in unnecessary conversation;
  • Reading or daydreaming while on duty;
  • Using your cell phone;
  • Listening to music or using ear phones; or
  • Turning your back on traffic.

Remember, working in traffic areas always presents some risks. The job of a flagger is an essential component of worksite safety.

Download the recording form here.

Preventing Forklift Accidents

There are several types of forklifts that can be used on construction sites. They include stand-up riders for use in narrow aisles, sit-down riders, motorized hand pallet jacks and rough terrain forklift trucks.

About 100 workers are killed each year as a result of forklift accidents. Overturning causes nearly one quarter of these fatalities. Other common forklift accidents include workers being struck by materials on forklifts or by the forklift itself, and workers falling from a forklift.

Unfortunately, those who operate forklifts day in and day out have a tendency to take short cuts and ignore basic safety rules. Their attitude says, “It can’t happen to me.”

Some factors to consider when driving a forklift include:

  • Know the capacity of the forklift you are driving. Make sure it can handle the size and weight of your load.
  • Determine if the load you are carrying has any odd characteristics, and plan ahead on how to handle them. Examples include loads that are top heavy, cylindrical or awkward.
  • Know the condition of the forklift. Are the forks damaged, or is there some other problem that could cause an accident? If so, don’t use the forklift until it’s repaired.
  • Determine the path you will be traveling with the forklift. Be aware of obstacles, bumps, ramps, people, cross aisles and narrow passageways.

When operating a forklift, keep the following safety guidelines in mind:

  • Operate the forklift only if you’ve been trained.
  • Maintain a safe following distance from other forklifts – about three vehicle lengths.
  • Follow speed limits and other regulations.
  • Drive with your load low – six or eight inches off the ground – and tilted slightly back.
  • Exercise extra caution when driving over duckboards and bridge plates, and make sure your load is within their capacity as well.
  • Raise and lower your load only when your forklift is completely stopped.
  • Stop and sound the horn at intersections.
  • Avoid sharp turns.
  • Keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle.
  • Wear a hard hat and other protective equipment when necessary.
  • Be sure your load is stable and secure.
  • When leaving the forklift for any reason or any length of time, lower the forks, neutralize the controls, shut off the engine and set the brakes.

OSHA has two educational documents on forklift safety. The first is “Operating the Forklift: Load Handling,” and the second is “Operating the Forklift: Traveling & Maneuvering.” Both have good information that can help you safely operate your forklift.

Download the recording form here.

News Release: Summer Travel Safety

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, May 25, 2016
CONTACT: Andria Hine, Indiana Constructors, Inc. (317) 634-7547

Construction Group Urges Summer Travel Safety Through Indiana’s Highway Work Zones

As Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer and Hoosiers take to the open road for family vacations, Indiana Constructors, Inc. (ICI) urges motorists to stay alert while driving through Indiana highway work zones. Highway workers face danger on the job, and drivers and passengers face an even higher risk of being hurt or killed in work zone crashes.

A new highway work zone study, conducted by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America, shows 39 percent of highway contractors reported motor vehicles crashes in their work zones in 2015. And those crashes had devastating results:


“Any time your job site is just a few feet away from fast-moving traffic, danger is right there with you,” said ICI President Richard Hedgecock. “An orange cone is no match for a speeding car, and it shouldn’t take a needless fatality to figure that out,” he added.

Indiana Constructors, Inc. is working with the Indiana Department of Transportation and federal transportation officials, as well as the Road Construction Awareness Corporation, to raise work zone safety awareness.

But Hedgecock suggested that the best way to improve safety was for motorists to be more careful while driving through highway work zones. “When you see construction signs and orange barrels, take your foot off the gas, get off the phone and keep your eyes on the road,” he added. “It is not worth putting your life or someone else’s at risk just to save a few seconds on the road.”

AGC of America’s work zone safety study is based on a nationwide survey of highway construction firms conducted in March and April. More than 800 contractors completed the survey. View the complete national and regional survey results here.


Indiana Constructors, Inc. is the voice of Indiana’s highway, heavy and utility construction industry. Learn more at www.indianaconstructors.org.