Many of our cities are currently widening their freeways, lengthening their entrance and exit ramps (thank God for that) and performing general maintenance on their highways and roadways. With that, we find more construction and work zones slowing commuters down and in some cases, creating a bottle neck situation. Which only adds fuel to the fire of the common road rager (sounds like a creature on animal planet).
Those poor construction workers! Construction is already the most dangerous land-based work sector, after the fishing industry. I’ve watched that show Most Dangerous Catch. What a hellish job that would be…next to being the President of the United States, of course (Dane Cook pointed this out first, not me). For construction workers, though, not only do they have the possibility of health hazards such as asbestos, solvents, falls, electrocution and being struck by falling objects, oh…and being made fun of in those goofy looking orange vests, they also have to worry about motor vehicles passing through the construction zone. Now, I don’t know that anyone has compiled a report of the number of injuries or fatalities caused by passing vehicles, but I have already heard my share of scary stories and close-calls.
In a construction zone nearby, a young worker was telling me that he is employed to hold a SLOW sign at the beginning of the construction zone on a busy major freeway. So far, he said he’s had a Blimpie sandwich thrown at him and two, 20 oz. bottles of soda. Just whipped at his head by people who are mad at him for making them slow down on the freeway. Like it’s his fault. He said the sandwich didn’t even have a bite out of it. It was in the bag with a napkin and chips…the works! “I don’t think the dude was buying me lunch”, he said, “Lunch shouldn’t hurt.” All of that made him a little apprehensive about showing up for work each morning. But the latest incident, someone in a dually truck didn’t feel much like slowing down and their side mirror clipped him just right and dislocated his shoulder. Now, he hides behind his SLOW sign and uses it like a “shield” to protect him from the haters. I don’t know how much he gets paid on that job, but he may want to find something more safe and cushy, like a pool boy or a hand model.
Here’s a few points to remember:
• Stay alert and drive defensively, dedicating all of your attention to the road.
• Look out for and pay attention to all work zone signs and flaggers.
• Headlights should be turned on so that workers and other drivers are aware of passing automobiles.
• Never speed. Slow down as you approach the work zone and observe the posted work zone speed limits.
• Keep up with traffic flow.
• Do not resume normal speed until roadway signs indicate that it is safe to do so.
• Do not tailgate. Leave braking room between your vehicle and the one in front.
• Leave a safe distance between your vehicle and traffic barriers, construction trucks and equipment and workers.
• Don’t change lanes in a work zone or pass on the shoulder.
• Pay attention and avoid distractions such as cell phones and the radio.
• Be patient and plan ahead for delays.
• Expect the unexpected by keeping an eye out for workers and equipment.
These guys are just hard-working people. Trying to make an honest living. And improving our commute in the long-run. Cut ‘em a break. Pay extra careful attention to those guys in the orange vests. They have kids at home, too (hmmm…maybe that’s why they choose to work those long hours).
Until next week…remember…orange is your new favorite color!
Daun Thompson
(Daun Thompson is a comedienne, writer and artist residing in Dallas, Texas)