The Construction Zone Speeding Problem
We’ve all been there. That orange sign up ahead, traffic is down to one lane, and each side has to share the same lane. We all know it’s inconvenient and frustrating, but we also know it’s needed. Potholes, cracks, dips and bumps need to be fixed and there’s only one way to do it if you want to keep traffic flowing: one lane at a time. The same goes for repaving a roadway.
The above is fine until you realize why the majority of drivers ignore construction zone speed limits. More often than not (more so on rural highways) you will approach a construction zone with a reduced speed limit. You will do the speed limit until the zone ends all the while wondering why you didn’t see one person or machine working. So why was the limit still 20 km/h less than the speed limit when no workers were present?
It would make sense if up ahead there was a change in road conditions that would be dangerous going the speed limit, but that’s rarely the case. Instead, what the majority of motorists see is a reduced limit and no workers present.
So why do most motorists ignore most construction zone speed limits? Because when there’s no work going on and no workers present, there’s no reason to slow down! Drivers aren’t trying to hurt anyone or themselves. If there were workers and activity, they’d instinctively slow down!
Here’s an example early in the morning on a daily commute on Anthony Henday Drive in Edmonton:
When no work is taking place, the signs should be covered. They used to be. Inconveniencing drivers in a construction zone and using it as an opportunity to use photo radar is the norm now. This is opportunistic, predatory and shows a total lack of respect for drivers’ time. If officials are truly concerned about safety, we’d see a much different outcome from the video above. But hey, fines are double in construction zones. Revenue over safety is the last thing we want to see, and we think that needs to change.
We want to see workers, contractors, family members and the average Joe make it home safely just as much as you do. So why not take the obvious steps to ensure they do and motorists stop ignoring construction zone speed limits? Because money. The more law-breakers you can create, the more you can profit and the bigger your budget becomes. If our province is generating massive revenues where safety is the number one factor, then we’re doing something wrong. Tickets and revenues should go down, as well as the need for enforcement.
When we see a trend or hear of an epidemic of construction zone speeding, the first thought should be, “why?”. “Motorists don’t take construction zones seriously, so we better increase enforcement and double fines. That will teach them.”
Analyze and determine the root cause, then address it. When we say address it, we don’t mean increase enforcement to generate more revenue. Here’s the bottom line: when no work is being done and there are no road dangers up ahead, please cover up your signs and stop ticketing motorists (double) for driving safely. If you want safer construction zones, treat motorists’ time with respect and you might just see the compliance rate go up, the amount of “speeders” go down, and above all, an increase in safety.