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You might have thought there are four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. However, drivers can’t overlook the construction season. It’s the time of year when the highways and byways are full of construction zones.
While you zip down the road, work crews work to fill potholes and address other road issues. If you’re not a careful driver, you could find yourself on the receiving end of a hefty fine.
Today, we’re sharing a few driving tips to help you avoid fines in construction zones. So buckle your seatbelt, and let’s get started!
What Is a Construction Zone?
A construction zone is an area of a road or highway where construction, maintenance, or repair work occurs. Signs, cones, and barriers typically communicate the status and warn drivers to proceed cautiously.
How long they’ll last depends on the project. Some take longer than others. Smaller projects may take a day or two, and significant infrastructure upgrades can take several years. In addition, workers may not stay on the intended schedule.
The primary goal of these zones is to ensure the safety of workers and drivers. Rules and regulations control traffic and minimize risks. Drivers should expect reduced speed limits, lane closures, and passing restrictions when driving in these construction areas.
How Much Are Construction Zone Fines?
Unfortunately, construction zone fines vary from state to state and depend on the violation. In general, penalties are exponentially higher than similar offenses in non-construction areas. Driving unsafely in these situations can be expensive.
Many states automatically double fines for speeding in a construction zone. In addition, some areas will have mandatory minimum penalties for certain violations. However, as you’ll soon see, fines are only one of the things drivers should worry about.
What Is the Speed Limit in a Construction Zone?
Like fines, speed limits in construction zones vary considerably. It’s typical to see reduced speed limits in these areas. However, it could range from anywhere from 25 miles per hour to 60 miles per hour. The goal is to create the safest environment for drivers and workers.
Drivers must pay attention to the signage when approaching these areas. They’ll alert the driver of speed changes and other potential hazards. Law enforcement will likely write you a ticket whether or not you were paying attention to the signs.
Penalties for Careless Driving in Construction Zones
If you don’t change your driving habits, it’ll cost you. Let’s look at some penalties for careless driving in these situations.
A fine is the most common penalty for careless driving in construction zones. These can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Of course, the fine depends on the severity of the violation.
As mentioned earlier, some states double the standard fine for a violation. Trust us; it’ll cost you a pretty penny if you don’t drive safely in these spots. Unless you have deep pockets, we suggest you pay attention and go the posted speed limit whether or not active construction is taking place.
Points on Your License
While drivers typically receive fines for driving infractions, they also can receive points. Violations that occur in construction zones can incur higher numbers of points. Accumulating these points can have significant consequences for a driver.
Carrying points on your driving record can result in increased insurance premiums. Providers see these drivers as risks and could result in costly claims. To offset their risks, they charge higher premiums. So you’ll face a costly fine and pay a more expensive monthly insurance premium.
Some states will revoke or suspend driver’s licenses depending on the infraction. This could happen after a certain amount of points or depending on the violation. The driver won’t get to drive for a certain amount of time or until they appear before a judge.
Driving is a privilege that authorities can revoke at any time. Unless you plan to hitch a ride from your friends, family, or Uber, you better watch how you drive in a construction zone.
Being a careless driver in a construction zone could land you behind bars. Offenses like excessive speeding, driving under the influence, and other dangerous practices could punch your ticket to the slammer.
Your time in jail can vary significantly depending on the offense and your previous criminal record. It could range anywhere from a few hours to several years, especially if there were injuries or fatalities due to your careless driving.
How to Avoid Fines in a Construction Zone
The consequences for careless driving in a construction zone are stiff. Luckily, there are some things you can do to avoid fines and other punishments. Here are some tips to help you stay on the right side of the law.
Follow the Speed Limit
Speeding is one of the most common violations in construction zones. While it may be inconvenient to reduce your speed, it’s essential. Sure, it’ll take a few more minutes to reach your final destination. However, you stand a better chance of avoiding hefty fines.
Speed limits can drop by as much as 20 or 30 miles per hour in these zones. If you’re on an interstate, pushing the accelerator a little too much can be easy.
Cruise control can help you follow the speed limit and avoid any issues — at least until you cruise into a construction zone unaware of the speed change.
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Pay Attention to Signage
To be a safe driver, you need to pay attention to signage. Crews use signs to communicate with drivers. They post things like speed limits, lane changes, and other critical information that vehicles need to know. Since you’re responsible for obeying them, pay attention.
The signs can change with or without notice. If you frequent a route, always check them when passing by. You don’t want a law enforcement officer to be the one to inform you the speed limit has changed.
Stay in Your Lane
Construction zones often have strict rules and regulations for vehicles changing lanes. In an area with multiple lanes, you’ll typically have a solid line, indicating drivers can’t change lanes.
Before you attempt to change lanes, you should confirm the legalities of it. As painful as it is to be behind a slow driver, there’s not much you can do about it in a construction zone.
There are 48 states with laws prohibiting distracted driving. You have plenty of possible distractions in a vehicle, but cell phones are the biggest.
Drivers can’t seem to disconnect from them when behind the wheel. Checking your texts or scrolling through social media in a construction zone can cost you deeply.
Limit distractions as much as possible. Put your phone in a glove box or storage compartment if every alert or buzz tempts you. Every text message or DM can wait for a response until you safely arrive at your destination.
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Give Workers Space
Unfortunately, sometimes the areas needing work are inches from passing traffic. Can you imagine trying to do your job with cars whizzing by constantly? Do workers and yourself a favor and give them space when possible.
Nearly 300 fatal accidents occurred in work zones in 2021. Many of these accidents were likely avoidable had drivers given workers some space. Just like you have friends and family waiting for you to get home, so do the workers. So cut them some slack and give them some space.
Stay Safe and Avoid Fines in Construction Zones
Driving through construction zones can be challenging and potentially dangerous. To stay safe and avoid fines, drivers should always drive responsibly. Exercise caution and avoid distracted driving or reckless behavior.
Safe driving in construction zones is a legal requirement and a responsibility. We all must do our part to keep our roads and communities safe.