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Thread: Behind the Wheel - July 3, 2007 - Construction Zones

  1. #1
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    Default Behind the Wheel - July 3, 2007 - Construction Zones

    Construction Zones

    Signs? I didn't see any signs! One wonders how a driver could possibly miss the series of orange three foot diamonds with attached flags flapping in the breeze beside the highway as they passed by, yet this is often what I heard when I stopped a motorist that has failed to obey them. Some drivers are so irate after being ticketed that they go back to make sure the signs are actually there!

    I usually write on this subject each year at the start of the road construction season. I appeal to drivers to slow down, putting themselves in the worker's place at the roadside. Would you like to have a vehicle whiz by you a foot or two away at significant speeds? Not likely!

    I am also careful to point out that flag people and construction workers are hit by errant drivers in B.C. every year, despite all the traffic controls put in place to guide everyone by safely.

    I even measured a construction zone one year and calculated that it cost drivers a total of 74 seconds to slow to the construction zone speed limit as opposed to what was posted before construction started. The only drivers who come to mind for me where 74 seconds are critical are those that drive an ambulance or fire apparatus.

    Perhaps if violators were sentenced to be a flag person for a day to experience the abuse and close calls, they might be a little more inclined to slow down and pay attention.

    To those of you who do put safety ahead of convenience, I am sure that the people who are improving the roads for your use would like to say "thank you!"

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  2. #2
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    You can blame our local bureaucracies for desensitizing drivers to construction zones, I think they are to blame for the countless numbers of people who speed through them.

    I grew up and learned to drive in the Yukon and the majority of drivers up there obeyed construction and school zones. I was shocked when we moved to Alberta to find that almost no one obeyed construction zones. It didn't take long for me to realize that the way construction zones were established and maintained was a little different.

    Construction zones are almost never dynamic. When there are no workers on site or hazards on the road, the construction speed limit remains for some reason. This pisses drivers off and so they speed. I heard some provinces change the speed limit back to normal at night or when there is no work being done, this isn't the case apparently in Calgary.

    I've even seen pre-emptive construction zones, where no work was being done, there wasn't a single construction person or piece of equipment anywhere in sight, however the speed limit was changed from 90 to 50 for over a week. I can only imagine the reason for this was bureaucratic, maybe someone thought that getting commuters used to the new lower speed limit was useful when in fact it did the opposite.

    Signage is also a big problem in Calgary. Often they'll have confusing or contradictory signs. Like when they forget that there are normal speed limit signs mixed in the middle of the construction zone because someone forgot to cover them, or the cover blew off. Outfits in Alberta also forget to end the zones which really gets me, so I'm supposed to travel 40-50km under the speed limit until I see the next speed limit sign 2-3km down the road. Meanwhile all kinds of motorists are passing me at high speed and I'm becoming a danger on the road. Another common error I see is that merging lanes might not have signage that the main road has, so they don't have a chance to obey the construction signs.

    Sometimes construction zones seem unnecessarily long, there might be a large section of a zone where there is no work being done, yet the speed limit remains. Often I see drivers lose patience and accelerate through sections that don't have any activity.

    There have been times on the Deerfoot in Calgary where doing the construction zone speed limit was in fact dangerous because the majority of drivers were disobeying an especially restrictive construction zone speed limit. There were times I was forced to speed up because it appeared as though I was going to be rear ended.

    I try my best to obey construction zones as was my habit in the Yukon, but I can only get passed by so many ignorant drivers before I pick one to follow out of the zone. If it's so important to police, maybe they need to enforce it with zero tolerance, because construction zones are truly a joke here in Alberta. Drivers will obey laws that either make sense or are enforced, neither are the case here.
    Last edited by mx73someday; 07-05-2007 at 01:46 AM.

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