How to drive safely through roadworks

Hard-shoulder highways works with bollards and signage, day.

Published 29 June 2021
Last updated 30 July 2021

In this blog we’ll show you how to keep cool when your journey is delayed by roadworks.

It’s summer, and that means blazing sun and hot cars. Great when you’re moving and the windows are wound down; not so good when you’re stuck in a queue of traffic waiting for the ‘stop/go’ sign to flash green.

As nice as it would be to ban roadworks in holiday season, it’s not going to happen. Roads need constant maintenance and working on them provides other important benefits such as improvements to existing infrastructure.

So now that we know why roadworks are necessary, it’s worth having a look at some strategies you can use to help you deal with them.

But before we do, let’s just take a brief detour to consider this: Highways England says that it receives an average of 175 reports of vehicles driving into roadworks every month! On its own that might not sound like very much, but taken over 3 years, that’s at least 6,300 incidents.

All the more reason to read our top tips, then...

Strategies for driving through roadworks

  • Number one... don’t drive through them if you don’t have to! Use the traffic and travel information on the internet to plan your journey. If you need to use the motorway network, Highways England has a nifty travel page that’s frequently updated with the latest traffic and travel information. You can also try listening to traffic bulletins on local or national radio
  • Two... remember, if you have a sat nav with traffic monitoring, it will be able to tell you where the bottlenecks are and show you ways that you can avoid them. Just make sure that you concentrate on the road and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by electronic devices. That includes mobile phones (lock them up in the glove compartment if possible!) and radios. Diverting your attention away from your driving for just a few seconds can be fatal, so keep looking where you’re going and scanning for hazards.
  • Three…look out for tell-tale road signs, as they will often tell you how much further you have to travel to reach the roadworks. They may also give you particular instructions.

You might see the famous red triangle warning sign with the man shovelling or, if you’re on a road with overhead gantries (such as a smart motorway), you may be warned via an electronic display. Use this information to prepare yourself. Look out for traffic management features, like narrow lanes and traffic cones, as you get closer to the roadworks.

  • Make sure you that keep a safe distance when you’re following other vehicles, and don’t be tempted to rush. There may be people working close by, and losing concentration for one moment could increase the risk of a serious incident. Keep calm and allow yourself that extra thinking and braking distance; it gives you the chance to spot developing hazards and react in good time.
  • There may be large, slow-moving work vehicles, such as diggers and lorries, moving around. Stay alert to the possibility of them turning near you and keep well back.
  • Roadworks on major routes often have average speed cameras. Keep a look out for them and don’t be tempted to speed up between them.
  • Make sure that you have a bottle of water handy – particularly on hot days. If roadworks cause delays, you need to make sure you stay alert and hydrated.

Finally, if driving through roadworks makes you anxious, remind yourself that most driving situations require skill, concentration and focus to negotiate safely. Roadworks are no different, so stay calm and observe our safety rules. If you still find it difficult, then it’s worth speaking to your driving instructor about what you can do to help manage your anxiety. If you’re an experienced driver, check to see if there’s a driving instructor nearby who offers refresher lessons.

End of the road

That’s it for this edition of the blog, but check back soon for more great tips. If you can’t wait that long, then visit the Safe Driving for Life Shop. It’s packed full of great resources to help you with a lifetime of safe driving.

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