A number of recent cases have seen civil construction workers in the United States injured or killed in the course of conducting their duties in road construction or maintenance.
Indeed, deaths in roadwork zones – typically numbering around 100 per year – account for roughly eight per cent of all construction fatalities throughout the US, according to Bureau of Labour Statistics. The deaths of two men in a marked construction zone on the northbound side of the 405 freeway highlighted the type of tragic events which occur all too often.
That’s not the only danger those involved with construction face on American roads.
Indeed, the Concrete Sawing and Drilling Association (CSDA) recently highlighted another key area of concern: risks to concrete truck drivers associated with aggressive driving and road rage.
The CSDA says many of its members encounter frustrated drivers as they try to manoeuvre heavy vehicles.
Toward this end, the CSDA has partnered with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) to produce a document outlining best practice guidelines regarding to how to avoid unpleasant or dangerous situations.
“Many CSDA contractors travel around the country in work trucks, and sometimes they and other road users do not understand the extra time needed to manoeuvre such large vehicles or the distance required to bring these vehicles safely to a stop,” says Kellie Vazquez, chairperson of the CSDA Safety Committee. “By not understanding these factors, drivers can quickly become aggressive toward each other. In extreme cases, something as simple as not using a turn signal can result in an act of road rage. That is why we felt it was important to educate the industry about how to steer clear of these situations.”
How can it be prevented?
The document, CSDA-OBP-1009 Aggressive Driving and Road Rage, outlines a number of factors which can lead to aggressive driving or road rage and goes on to describe a number of ways in which workers and their employers can reduce instances of either occurring during their time on the road.
The document says truck drivers can reduce road rage instances by allowing adequate time for their trip (taking into account possible heavy traffic/delays), avoiding eye contact with and/or making obscene gestures toward drivers who display aggressive behaviour, maintaining a safe distance between themselves vehicles in front of them, and avoiding conduct which is likely to cause frustration on the part of other road users, such as driving for lengthy periods in the passing lane on highways.
Most important, drivers should stop and think before reacting to any instance of unsafe or aggressive driving. They should also make a point of reporting any instances of unacceptable driving practices of others to local authorities.
Employers, too, can minimise the chances of accidents by educating workers with regard to the type (size, height, length, width) of vehicle being driven, what a driver should do if they encounter aggressive driving from other motorists, and how to maintain awareness of surroundings and keep emotions in check while driving.
Employers should also ensure that vehicles are properly maintained, which will help prevent breakdowns and flat tyres which cause delays, and reiterate to their drivers that aggressive driving is not acceptable.
Vazquez says the CSDA hopes the guidelines will help professionals in the concrete sawing and drilling industry avoid confrontations as they travel to and from the job site.
The CSDA says those in charge of concrete and other trucks cannot control the behaviour of other road users, but can minimise the chances of injury to themselves or others by controlling their own actions.