Road conditions are a regular topic of conversation on Long Island. Many of us have experienced flat tires after hitting a pothole on local roads, but while we demand road repairs and have the right to them as taxpayers, sometimes we’re not as patient as we should be with the department of transportation workers who repair our roadways.
As soon as the warm weather arrives, crews begin to pepper the streets filling potholes and paving roads. While busy schedules have many rushing all over the Island at times, when a driver begins to see orange cones and, more importantly, a person holding a sign that says “slow” or “stop,” it’s imperative to follow directions.
According to the New York State website, in 2018 “there were 701 crashes in work zones on state roads and bridges, resulting in 13 motorist fatalities and 329 injuries to motorists, contractor employees and NYSDOT staff” in the state. The fatalities and injuries could have been avoided with some extra care while driving around road work zones.
A flagger’s directions by law hold the same authority as a sign. Imagine what many of the flaggers have to go through every day. For some standing on the edge of the work zone to slow down or stop traffic, not only puts their lives at risk but it also puts them in a situation where they can be harassed by drivers when all they are doing is their job to keep drivers and workers safe while navigating a disrupted roadway.
It’s pretty simple. When you see a work zone approaching, slow down and merge into the correct lane when it is safe to do so, and do not speed at the end of the closed lane to try to get into the other lane.
Speeding through a work zone also can mean a lighter wallet for a driver. New York State fines are doubled for speeding in these zones. A driver’s license can be suspended if a motorist receives repeat convictions of speeding violations in work zones.
With only a couple of months left until summer’s end, we’ll still see many workers on the road. Take care to slow down and keep more than the usual distance between you and the car in front of you to show respect for those who are putting their lives in our hands to keep our roads smooth.
For road maintenance workers, their livelihood should not mean risking their lives, because someone couldn’t be inconvenienced for a few minutes.