In short-term traffic control where work zones are setup and torn down daily, safety is always priority number one. These are the job sites you are most likely to come across in your daily commute—the ones you encounter while traveling the same road for the 1000th time; the road you claim you could drive in your sleep.
When transportation stakeholders think about work zones, complex setups are usually top of mind (e.g. multi-lane closures, large scale utility projects). It’s probably because these types of setups are more significant. What the public may not know, is that these types of projects include a traffic plan, which outlines in detail, the many elements and sequences for that specific job. With all the pomp and circumstance of complex setups, standard flagging operations may be taken for granted. They may not seem as significant to the average passerby, but they have the potential to be the most dangerous for that very reason.
THE UNCOMMON COMMON
Flagger Force estimates that daily, there are around 5,000 or more temporary work zones throughout the east coast. This is due to continuous maintenance and improvements on infrastructure. Operations requiring short term traffic control are not only the most in demand, they’re the most likely to be encountered in your neighborhood. Did you know that one in three road accidents occurs just a mile from your home? It’s no question that your greatest risk exposure is going to be those work zones you most frequently encounter. Standard operations are also the most dangerous to the traffic control professionals as they’re normally closer to the travel lane in this type of operation.
Since these types of work zones are the most common, they can also breed complacency amongst everyone involved, including motorists. We all get stuck in the daily routine of the mundane commute. Work zones break up that monotonous pattern and require everyone’s mindfulness. They intrude upon daily driving habits, and since they break the norm, they need to be treated differently than ordinary driving. You may need to stop unexpectedly or merge into another lane. Regardless of the happenstance, you’ll need to slow down and pay more attention to the roadway and your surroundings.
One of the top causes of transportation headaches is the recurring demand for infrastructure to change. With the scale of infrastructure comes the need for continuous maintenance. The fact is, work zones are viewed as a nuisance to most of the public, but they symbolize progress. Staying mindful of the importance of the work taking place on or near the road will be beneficial as you come across job sites during your daily commute, as you see your community develop and advance toward the future.
Infrastructure improvements benefit all community stakeholders. Investing in infrastructure offers the potential for economic growth beyond the creation of new jobs. Having a traffic control partner who understands its role in the community as a provider of safety, infrastructure development, and economic impact shapes the work zone experience meaningfully. Perhaps the real demonstration of safety then, is evident in the consistent, quality execution, day in and day out. This largely characterizes short-term traffic control. Safety is never mundane.