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Stay alert and be patient going through construction zones

You may be on a busy freeway going at least 55 miles per hour when you come upon a construction zone. The road may not be good here, and the work may go on for miles.

Drivers should pay particular attention when making their way through construction areas of any size to avoid a potentially catastrophic crash.

Drivers as victims

Many people work in construction zones where heavy equipment is moved around constantly, and work vehicles come and go. Yet most of the fatalities resulting from crashes in work zones are motorists. According to the Federal Highway Administration, between 2009 and 2014, more than 4,400 people died in work zone crashes, and 85 percent were drivers. Here is where the danger of driving through freeway construction zones comes in: Most of the fatalities occurred in areas where the speed limit was in excess of 50 miles per hour.

Be cautious

The most common type of accident that occurs when driving through a construction zone is a rear-end collision. Remember that at 50 miles per hour, your stopping distance on dry pavement is 300 feet. When the road is wet, it is 400 feet, and when there are icy conditions, the stopping distance for vehicles balloons to 1,250 feet. Keep your attention focused on your driving—put your cell phone away, do not adjust your GPS, do not change radio stations. Concentrate on the road and traffic situation ahead. Watch for brake lights, and be alert to the possibility that trucks and other vehicles might be pulling out of the work zone and onto the roadway. Obey the posted speed limit, and remember that fines are often doubled for traffic violations in a construction zone.

Avoid injury

New Jersey drivers are accustomed to seeing construction zones, and it is easy to become complacent. A personal injury attorney will tell you that an accident can happen in the blink of an eye, and devastating injuries can result. Treat construction zones with respect. Be patient, stay alert and continue on your way safely.