We’re nearing the end of Work Zone Awareness Month in Maryland, but that doesn’t mean that drivers and pedestrians can forget everything they’ve learned about work zone safety. The last week of April is National Work Zone Awareness Week, a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of work zone hazards and safety best practices. Americans must carry the knowledge they’ve learned during these campaigns onto our streets and highways. Throughout the month, we’ve supplied our readers with some of the tools they need to make wise and safe choices when driving, walking, and cycling near work zones. In our final Work Zone Awareness Month blog for 2021, we’ll explore some common signs and flags you might find when driving through work zones.
Work Zone Speed Limits: Static and Variable Signs
Many work zones feature areas of reduced speed, and there are a few different ways for crews to display the applicable speed limits. Static speed limit signs display a single posted speed limit, day or night. They may have additional instructions (e.g., “WHEN WORKERS PRESENT,” “WHEN FLASHING”), and the posted speed limit may change throughout the work zone. Variable signs are electronic and capable of displaying various speed limits. Some variable signs can also convey additional text instructions.
Detours, Closures, and Other Written Instructions on Work Zone Signs
There are countless types of road signs used to warn drivers and pedestrians of hazardous road conditions, traffic pattern changes, and other vital information about the nearby work zone. Detours are typically marked with orange signs that say “DETOUR,” and some signs also feature arrows or street names for clarity. Detours often have “END DETOUR” or “END” signs to indicate that drivers have reached the end of the detour route. Road, lane, ramp, and shoulder closures are often marked with clear language on white, orange, or yellow signs. Drivers may also see warnings of “LOOSE GRAVEL,” “NEW TRAFFIC PATTERN AHEAD,” “GROOVED PAVEMENT,” and other expected hazards. Drivers must heed each and every posted sign as they travel.
Divided Highways, Two-Way Traffic, and Shoulder Drop-Off Signs
Some signs have no text at all and rely upon symbols to convey their messages, and these can be the most confusing. Two-way traffic signs feature two vertical arrows, one pointing in each direction. Divided highway signs also feature two vertical arrows pointing opposite directions, with the addition of a semi-oval median in the middle. Shoulder drop-off signs show a car tilted to one side above an uneven road, indicating the side with a low shoulder. If you ever see a sign you don’t recognize when you’re out and about, drive cautiously and look up the sign’s meaning later. You never know when you’ll see it next!
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