How to navigate your way safely when driving through a zone stacked with heavy equipment, traffic cones, flashing lights, and construction workers.
Most drivers dread encountering roadworks, as these often lead to traffic snarls. Here are some scenarios you may have encountered:
- confusing signals are given by those directing traffic
- other drivers don’t give way
- getting caught between heavy vehicles, which can be a hazardous
Roadworks often mean traffic hassles and slower drive times, because one or more lanes are blocked off. Roadworks are also why some traffic accidents occur. This can be due to a variety of reasons:
- some drivers get confused by road detours
- others do not heed the reduced speed limit
- then there are the distracted drivers, who continue playing with their smartphone while approaching the zone
- some drivers simply are not keeping a lookout for obstacles on the road, construction workers, and other road users
As roadworks are quite a common occurrence in a busy city like Singapore, you need to know how to negotiate them safely. These tips should help:
1 Slow down, be alert, and pay attention to the signs
When you spot the orange road work signs, slow down and be prepared for lane changes. In addition, some lanes may have narrowed, so pay attention if you don’t want to get your car scratched. It pays to be gracious to other drivers. Never speed up, change lanes abruptly, or swerve and squeeze your way through traffic, which can cause an accident.
Take note of road signs, but assess the situation with your own eyes. There have been more than a few occasions when I have noticed that the sign indicated road works on the left, but the work zone was actually located on the right.
2 Comply with traffic controllers
Traffic controllers (sometimes known as a flag person) or traffic control devices are vital in directing the flow of traffic, so compliance goes a long way towards easing congestion. While there are automatic ones such as the one in the photograph, construction workers are sometimes assigned to hold ‘Stop’ and ‘Go’ signs.
3 Expect the unexpected
Because of the roadworks, traffic lanes may have changed, and people and vehicles may be working on or near the road.
4 Keep a safe distance
Be alert and don’t get too close to traffic barriers, construction equipment, and construction workers. Look out for heavy vehicles entering and exiting the zone, as well as equipment that extends into traffic. Look out for construction workers working dangerously close to moving traffic, drive slower, and maintain a safe distance.
5 Beware of heavy vehicles
Vehicles used in construction are heavy, bulky, with the driver’s seat usually set higher. They also have multiple blind spots that cannot all be overcome by the use of mirrors. Read our article on this issue here.
Remember the fatal accident in 2013, when two boys were run over by a cement truck at the junction of Tampines Street 45 and Tampines Avenue 9? The driver had looked out for pedestrians on the other end of the pedestrian crossing but failed to notice pedestrians walking on his left. There was also another accident involving a tipper truck and a car at the same junction a year later.
While you may not have control over the actions of the person operating the heavy vehicle, you can anticipate his move and take pre-emptive action if anything seems amiss. You do not want to encounter a heavy vehicle opening its door in your path or hit a construction worker who may be unknowingly hopping out of the vehicle onto the road.
6 Plan your route
Stay tuned to road traffic reports over the radio before you set off or while on the road. If you are aware of roadworks on your route, set off earlier or take a detour. Plan ahead, be alert, and stay safe so everyone gets to go home without a scratch.