Since the July 4 holiday falls on a Friday this year, the Iowa Department of Transportation expects to see more travelers driving to the many exceptional recreational activities around the state. Because it is construction season in Iowa, the Iowa DOT and the state’s counties and cities have set up work zones in every corner of Iowa to improve our transportation system. Prior to traveling over the holiday, we urge motorists to visit 511ia.org for the latest traveler information on current projects that may affect travel plans. You can also get this information by following us on Twitter @iowadot or @statewideia511. The Iowa DOT’s construction site, www.iowadot.gov/travel.html#/highwayconstruction, includes more complete information on major construction projects that will affect travelers across Iowa this construction season such as specific project details, project detours and traffic impacts, costs, schedules, construction updates, contact information, and an interactive map that includes current projects on Iowa’s interstate and state highways. Driver behavior is the key to safety in work zones. Following a few simple guidelines can greatly keep both drivers and workers safe and help work toward the goal of Zero Fatalities on Iowa’s roadways. Expect the unexpected in any work zone along any road. Speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be changed, and people and equipment may be at work on or near the road.
Slow down. Be alert. Pay attention to the signs. Diamond-shaped orange warning signs are generally posted in advance of road construction projects. Observe the posted signs until you see the one that marks the end of the work zone.
Watch out for flaggers. In addition to other warning signs, a “flagger ahead” warning sign may be posted in the work zone. Stay alert and be prepared to obey the flagger’s directions. In a work zone, a flagger has the same authority as a regulatory sign, meaning you can be cited for disobeying his or her directions.
Merge as soon as possible. Do not zoom up to the point where the lane closes, then try to merge in. Motorists can help maintain traffic flow and posted speeds by moving to the appropriate lane as quickly and safely as possible after first notice of an approaching work zone.
Slow down when directed. A car traveling 60 mph travels 88 feet per second. If you are going 60 mph and you pass a sign that reads “Road Work 1500 feet,” you will be in that work zone in 17 seconds.
Don’t tailgate. The most common crash in a highway work zone is the rear-end collision; remember to leave at least two seconds of braking distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and traffic barriers, trucks, construction equipment, and workers.
Work zones may be mobile. Some work zones – like line painting, road patching, shoulder repair, and mowing – are mobile and advance as the work is finished. Just because you do not see the workers immediately after you see the warning sign does not mean they are not present in the area.
Expect delays. Plan ahead and leave early to reach your destination on time. Highway
agencies use many different ways to inform motorists about the location and duration of major work zones. Often, detours are suggested to help you avoid the work zone entirely. Plan ahead and try an alternate route.