Why Slow Down if No Workers at Construction Site?

Have you ever driven through a signed construction speed zone with no workers in sight and thought, “Why the heck do I have to slow down if there’s nothing happening?”

It’s a question we get now and again on our social platforms – including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – so we decided to explain how speed management works when it comes to roadway construction zones.

Let us first say this: we understand that speed zones are most effective when drivers consider them reasonable. That means consistently following standards, keeping speed zones as short as possible, and clearly communicating where speed zones end.

That also means ensuring speed zone signs are covered, or removed, when they are not needed. Which begs the question: if no workers are present… shouldn’t the signs be covered?

No, not necessarily.

Yes, protecting workers is a big part of speed reductions in construction zones – but it’s not the only factor. Work zone speeds should take into account the type of work being done and the proximity of workers to traffic, but they should also factor in any changes in road characteristics.

Not all reduced construction zone speeds are the same – the limit depends on the zone.

During inactivity, speed reductions can be kept in place to protect travellers from hazards associated with a highway under construction. These can include:

  • Drop-offs
  • Uneven road surfaces
  • Narrow lanes
  • Changes in alignment
  • Reduced sight distances
  • Lack of shoulders or lane markings… to name a few.

Remember: our goal is to protect workers and road users while keeping people moving as efficiently as possible. In order to support this goal, we have created guidelines for all construction traffic control, which are available in the Traffic Management Manual for Work on Roadways.

Work zone safety is a two-way street, relying on proper traffic management procedures as well as caution from the driving public. The Cone Zone BC campaign website is a valuable resource for workers, employers and drivers to learn about their responsibilities and strategies for maintaining safety on the roads. Please check it out.

Do you have any other questions about construction zones? Let us know in the comments section.

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