If You See Orange Barrels . . . It’s a Work Zone

construction zone

Winter . . . and Construction

In Michigan, the local saying goes, there are only two distinct seasons . . . winter and construction.

Most drivers know when it’s winter, but some drivers seem to be confused as to when they are entering a construction zone . . .

Many drivers tell Law Enforcement Officers, “I didn’t know it was a construction zone,” tweeted Sgt. John Perrine.  So here’s a heads-up:

TIP— If you see orange barrels it’s a work zone. Sgt. John Perrine

Many states double fines and “points” for traffic infractions in a construction work zone. Avoiding a ticket, however, should be the least of our considerations; we want to be safe and make sure everyone else is safe, too.

Because there can be distractions and a lot happening at the same time, construction zones can be dangerous and deadly. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) reminds us in the last 5 years:

  • 4,400 persons died (85 percent of which was the driver or passenger) in work zones
  • 200,000 persons were injured
  • A fatal work-zone collision involving a truck occurs every 3 days

Statistics from work-zone crashes show:

  • 47% of fatal rural work-zone collision involve trucks
  • 49% of fatal truck-involved work-zone collisions involve a truck running into something or someone, and
  • 30% of fatal truck-involved work-zone collisions involve driver distraction.

The most common type of work zone crash is the rear-end collision. Drivers are following too closely or not paying attention.


• Keep a good following distance and be ready to suddenly stop.

• Look for other vehicles trying to merge late into the lane.

• Some states enforce the zipper merge.

• Stay under the posted speed limit.

• Expect the unexpected. People will make mistakes.

• Turn the radio off and CB down.

• Limit conversations.

• In bad weather, slow down and leave extra following distance.

• Be mindful of flaggers and signage.

• Out east, cars will (illegally) pass your truck by driving on the shoulder.

• Allow extra drive time in your schedule.

• Don’t make ANY unnecessary lane changes.

• Keep your headlights on.

• Drive defensively.

My personal strategy is to avoid construction zones, if possible. If I can’t avoid them, I will try to run through the zone during off peak-traffic times. Sometimes they can’t be avoided.

Yeah . . . I’m that guy following the work-zone speed limit . . . And I hope you do, too . . .

Remember today’s tip: If you see the orange barrels, it’s a work zone.

Thank you for reading this. With thanks to Sgt. John Perrine.