Driving around Orange County this summer I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of work occurring on or along the roadways. The work is being undertaken by a variety of entities - from NYS DOT and private contractors to County employees, local municipalities, and utility companies. I’ve seen paving projects, utility pole replacements, drainage work, line painting, bridge repairs, and other projects of varying size. One of the most significant construction jobs under way is the major interchange improvement project at Exit 122 on Route 17 in Middletown. From time to time as traffic may get backed up or rerouted at one of these projects, I urge you to stay alert, follow directions, and be patient - for your safety and that of the men and women who are working on our roads.
Department of Public Works Commissioner Charles W. Lee, PE, and I would like to share with you some work zone safety tips for drivers provided by the Federal Highway Administration. By following these, you will help to create a safer work zone for both yourself and the highway worker.
• Stay alert and minimize distractions while driving - dedicate your full attention to the roadway. Avoid playing with the radio, talking on the phone, eating, and other distracting activities.
• If your car does not have day time driving lights, turn on your headlights.
• Merge into the proper lane, before you reach the lane closure.
• Be aware that traffic patterns can change on a daily basis.
• Change lanes only where pavement markings indicate, and only when traffic permits.
• Be alert to flaggers and follow their instructions carefully.
• Give construction vehicles, and construction workers, as much room as possible.
• Be patient - your life, and the lives of the highway workers, depends on it.
Keep in mind that many of these tips also apply when you encounter law enforcement or emergency vehicles along the roadway. In January 2012, New York State modified its Move Over Law in order to protect law enforcement officers, emergency workers, tow and service vehicle operators, and others working along roadways while performing their duties. The new law says that drivers must use due care when approaching an emergency vehicle that displays red and/or white emergency lighting. On all roads and highways, drivers must reduce speed and on Parkways and other controlled access highways with multiple lanes, when approaching an emergency vehicle that displays red and/or white emergency lighting or a hazard vehicle displaying flashing amber lighting, drivers must move from the lane immediately adjacent to the emergency or hazard vehicle, unless traffic or other hazards exist to prevent doing so safely.
Obeying the Move Over Law, just like following the work zone safety advice, is for your safety and theirs. Please do your part and give our law enforcement, emergency personnel, highway workers, and others the room they need to do their job.
Until next week, I wish you good health and happiness.