Navigating a left turn can be challenging under any circumstance, but this maneuver can be especially difficult when construction is involved. As a personal injury law firm specializing in auto and truck crash cases, we know how important it is to be aware of all of the risks when attempting a potentially dangerous driving maneuver. In this post, we want to bring your attention to some of the things you should keep top-of-mind when you approach a left turn in a construction zone. We will also touch on what not to do in this scenario. Being aware of the potential dangers that left turns in construction zones pose can help reduce your risk of an accident.
Remember to Look Out for Construction Workers and Flaggers
The influx of activity in construction zones makes them especially dynamic and potentially unpredictable. The attentiveness of drivers is largely responsible for safety on the roads in general. When you are near construction of approaching a construction zone when you intend to make your left turn (or any maneuver for that matter), there are a few things you should remember to do:
- Reduce Your Speed
Gradually slow down as you approach a construction zone and be prepared to come to a complete stop if you must.
- Look Out for Flaggers
Flaggers may be trying to bring your attention to signs and signals. Make sure to keep an eye out for them and be careful to give them room. Their primary goal is to maintain a smooth traffic flow and direct drivers safely.
- Keep an Eye Out for Pedestrians
Remember that construction workers are afforded the right of way according to traffic laws. Construction zones may have many workers on foot in or around the road. Be careful and proceed with caution.
Construction Zone Traffic Patterns may be Altered
Construction zones are characterized by temporary traffic patterns, lane shifts, and detours that can be disorienting for drivers. Before making a left turn, keep in mind that the flow of traffic may be altered. Be aware of these changes and familiarize yourself with any new rules. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Follow the Signs
Construction zones are marked by a multitude of signs and lane markings that provide guidance on how to navigate the area. Drive with caution and look out for these indicators for guidance as to how to proceed with your maneuver. There may be signs specific to left turns and how to navigate them.
- Stay in Designated Lanes
Last minute lane changes and abrupt maneuverers can be dangerous in construction zones. It is important that you stay and your lane and follow the designated signage with regard to lane changes.
- Keep a Safe Following Distance
While the intersection may look clear enough to proceed with your left turn, sudden stops or changes in traffic patterns frequently occur in construction zones. It is important to keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you to avoid a collision.
What NOT to Do
Just as crucial as understanding what to do when completing a left turn in a construction area is understanding what NOT to do. Here are some things to avoid when approaching your left turn:
- Steer Clear of Distractions
Construction zones require your full attention. That means refraining from using your phone, fiddling with your radio, or becoming otherwise distracted.
- Respect Speed Limits
Even if the speed limit feels slower than normal in a construction zone, it is important to respect the new limits. Making your turn at a reduced speed is not only for your safety, but for the safety of the workers in your area.
- Don’t Assume Usual Rules Apply
You may not have the right of way to complete your left turn even if the oncoming traffic has cleared. Make sure you are aware of any new rules and regulations imposed to protect you and the surrounding construction workers.
- Avoid Aggressive Driving
There is never an appropriate time to drive aggressively, but construction zones and intersections are certainly particularly dangerous. Instead of driving aggressively, exercise caution.
Some Additional Things to Remember:
- Prepare for Possible Delays
One way to reduce the stress and frustration that comes with traffic delays is to anticipate them beforehand. If you intend to drive through an area that in under construction, be aware that the speed limits will be reduced which may cause congestion. You will often experience delays.
- Use Your Vehicle’s Signals Properly
If you intend to make your left turn in an area with construction, it is vitally important that you use your turn signal. This not only signals your intention to the drivers behind you (who may be impatient and unprepared to slow down), but also to the workers who may intend to cross your path of traffic. It is also extremely important that oncoming traffic is aware that you intend to turn because they may also be confused about temporary traffic rules.
- Be Prepared for Sudden Stops
Sudden stops are part of the reason that speed limits are reduced in construction zones. These stops can occur anywhere, not just before you intend to turn. In this scenario, remember to maintain a safe following distance and drive with caution.
- Stay Informed About Road Conditions
Next time you reach this construction zone, you may be surprised to find that left turns are no longer allowed are the lane positions have changed. Remember that road conditions under construction are constantly evolving and may change from time to time.
Being aware of the common mistakes that people when in construction zones can make your left turn safer and encourage you to proceed with caution. One important thing to remember is that left turns may not be permitted in the intersection under construction. If that is the case, proceed along the legal route until you can safely reroute. Keep in mind that construction workers, flaggers, signage, barriers, and other potential variables should be taken into account when attempting any maneuver in a construction zone, especially left turns.