Best Practices for Night-Time Work Zones

April 2, 2012 — 1,284 views  
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Regardless of the time of day, work zones on high-traffic roadways can cause safety issues for motorists and workers alike, and caution must be exercised to minimize the risks involved. In the evening, these concerns are exacerbated simply due to the lack of sunlight and the possibility of drivers being less alert as a result of tiredness or intoxication. 

Public works professionals must institute specific safety practices for night-time work zones. According to a report prepared by the Transportation Research Board, the main hazards in this situation are the reduced visibility of workers (and drivers), which requires the use of specialized lighting and traffic control technology. Additionally, the noise caused by heavy machinery can be disruptive to those living in nearby residential areas.

The report recommends the implementation of a well-thought-out detour route to steer night-time motorists onto less trafficked roads or service roads. Drivers should be made aware of the detour well in advance through the use of highly visible warning signs, which should be placed a mile or half-mile in advance of the road work on a busy highway and as little as 100 feet in the case of low-speed urban roads.

To alleviate any discontentment within local communities, residents should be informed that the construction will occur (and that it'll take place at night) a reasonable amount of time before the project's start date. Local and state transportation authorities will want to coordinate with public works professionals so a strategy can be determined to the best possible benefit of all involved.