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Drivers urged to exercise caution in construction zones

Increased funding for transportation projects means drivers can expect increased road and bridge construction activity during the summer driving season.

As the summer driving season kicks into full gear, AAA urges motorists to use caution and practice safe driving habits when approaching and driving through work zones.

In light of the enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Americans preparing for summer road trips should expect to encounter greater numbers of work zones and construction activity.

ARRA included $27 billion in funding for states and localities to repair as well as build highways, roads and bridges.

"Given the backlog of transportation needs across the country, AAA advocated dedicating a portion of the economic recovery funds to transportation," said Robert Darbelnet, association president and chief executive officer.

"It's important for the driving public to be aware of the increased construction activity and to adjust to changing driving conditions and work zones when they encounter them, especially during this peak travel period," added Darbelnet.

According to data compiled by the Federal Highway Administration, motorists can expect to encounter an active work zone one out of every 100 miles on the national highway system.

In 2007, 835 people were killed at locations throughout the United States in work zone motor vehicle crashes.

Federal highway safety agencies estimate that nearly four out of every five people injured or killed in work zone crashes are motorists, not roadway construction workers.

AAA encourages Carbon County motorists to:

•Check for planned work zone delays, traffic advisories and allot extra travel time prior to departing for trips.

•Stay alert and obey the directions of any police officer, firefighter or road crew flagger and follow any posted work zone advisories and signage.

Temporary work zone signs are orange and nearly always diamond-shaped, explained AAA.

As with any driving situation, local travelers should minimize interior and exterior distractions.

Construction zones may contain unusual vehicles or machinery that can divert a driver's attention, advised the association.

Drivers should be prepared to stop, slow down, shift lanes and yield to the movement of construction workers and equipment, advised federal highway safety experts.

Motorists should not turn off their vehicles when stopped on the roadway unless they will be idling for a significant period of time.

•Reduce travel speeds.

For the safety of all drivers and construction workers, normal posted speed limits are almost always reduced in work zones.

Most states double fines for speeding in work zones when workers are present.

Motorists, while keeping consistent with the flow of traffic, should maintain a safe distance between vehicles ahead, traffic barriers and construction workers and equipment, concluded the association.

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