Construction Zone Safety

For many motorists, warm weather means time to plan summer road trips, but it also means road construction season. Unfortunately, each year in Alberta, dozens of workers and motorists are injured or killed in construction zones.

Before You Enter A Construction Zone

When driving through a construction zone in Alberta, drivers will generally pass through three outer zones designed to create the safest possible conditions before entering the actual construction zone.

Zone One: Is an advanced warning area that tells traffic what to expect ahead.
Zone Two: Is a transition area that typically moves traffic out of its normal path and advises drivers to reduce speed and not pass other vehicles.
Zone Three: Is a buffer area that typically uses traffic cones and barricades that are meant to protect road workers and equipment, just before the work area begins.

Unfortunately, some drivers don’t want to slow down and think it’s not risky to speed through a construction zone. The fact is, 900 collisions, including some with injuries or fatalities, and millions of dollars in property damages occur every year in road and utility construction zones in Alberta.

Risks and Consequences

So, what’s at risk when you don’t slow down in a construction zone?

  • You risk a collision involving yourself and/or other road users. There can be workers on or near the road operating heavy equipment, working with hand tools on the ground or acting as flag persons.
  • Road workers could also be hidden behind equipment, materials, etc. The faster you drive, the longer it will take to stop.
  • Even when it seems that there is no activity in a construction zone, there may be other less obvious/hidden hazards such as fresh oil, loose gravel chips and uneven pavement. These conditions can be dangerous and cause damage to vehicles travelling at high rates of speed.
  • Drivers convicted of speeding through construction zones will be subject to double the fine.
  • When workers are present, fines for speeding in construction zones are doubled as well. Demerit points will also be applied to the driver’s record if convicted, but will not be doubled. For example:
Speed Demerit Fine Range (includes surcharge)
1 – 15 km over 2 $57 – $89
$114 – $178 doubled
16 – 30 km over 3 $103 – $177
$206 – $354 doubled
31 – 50 km over 4 $187 – $351
$374 – $702
Over 50 km 6 Mandatory Court appearance. Fines are at the discretion of the Court.

Tips for Driving in Construction Zones

  • Check road reports ahead of time and use an alternate route if possible.
  • Construction or road maintenance zones will have roadway signs in advance to warn motorists that road work is being done.
  • When approaching a construction zone, use extra caution, and slow down where people are working on or near the road.
  • Obey all directions by flag people. Treat flag people working on roads with respect and remain calm if traffic is delayed.
  • Be patient with construction speed limits and road markers. Expect delays and be aware that your trip will take a little longer.
  • Obey all warning signs, traffic control devices and posted speed limits within the zone.
  • Avoid changing lanes, look well ahead, and be ready for sudden stops.
  • Be ready day or night as road construction can happen at any time and doesn’t just occur in the daytime hours.
  • Vehicles ahead of you may stop unexpectedly so keep lots of space and be prepared to stop.
  • Keep space between your vehicle and any equipment parked, or being operated, in these zones.
  • If your lane is blocked and no one is directing traffic, yield to the traffic coming from the opposite direction. When the way is clear, move carefully around the obstacle.
  • Lastly, avoid storing papers or other items on the dashboard that can affect vision and cause distracted driving.

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I am a Fleet Safety Operations Manager with 30 years of experience teaching traffic safety across five provinces, and in four countries. Outside of work, I am an avid traveller, a fervent Flames fan, and a Mustang enthusiast.