Maui News

HDOT Reminds Drivers to Slow Down, Move Over for Workers

April 13, 2018, 10:54 AM HST
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Road work on Haleakalā Hwy at Firebreak road. PC: (7.12.17) Nikki Schenfeld.

As part of National Work Zone Awareness Week, the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation is reminding drivers of the importance of driving safely in all work zones, including construction zones along Hawai‘i’s roads.

“Our emergency responders, work crews, and construction workers all have a part in keeping our roadways safe for drivers every day,” said Governor David Ige. “We need to do our part to keep them safe.”

National statistics from 2016 reveal that 765 people were killed in highway work zone crashes across the country, which HDOT says could have been prevented if the drivers involved had slowed down and followed construction zone signage.

“Each of the past three years, Hawai‘i has suffered three work zone related fatalities,” said HDOT Director Jade Butay. “This year we’ve already experienced one work zone crash resulting in a death. This is a trend that must be reversed.”

HDOT Deputy Director for Highways Ed Sniffen says there is a reason for construction speed limits and buffer zones adding, “The reason is that we want everyone working on our roads to get home safely.”

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Major Ryan Nishibun of the Honolulu Police Department Traffic Division highlighted the state’s Move Over law, which requires drivers approaching an emergency vehicle to move over or slow down to a reasonable and prudent speed. Failure to comply with the Move Over law may result in a traffic citation, followed by a mandatory court appearance and up to a $1,000 fine.

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HDOT provides the following FAQ and Answers regarding Temporary Traffic Control

Why are lanes closed when no one is working?

In some cases, it may look like no one is working and the lane closure is not necessary, however not all work is visible. There can be work such as surveying, preparation work, utility relocation or other functions that may not be observed, but still require a lane closure. In addition, crews may have poured concrete or asphalt and a specific time is needed for the product to cure/dry before the roadway is reopened to vehicular traffic.

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Why are multiple lanes closed when work is only being done in one lane?

In many cases it is not feasible or safe to conduct operations within the limits of a single lane. Maintaining traffic directly adjacent to a work operation, separated only by a lane stripe is extremely hazardous for both drivers and workers. Longer term projects may use temporary concrete barrier to separate traffic from the work zone. HDOT practice is to close the minimum number of lanes possible, but not at the expense of safety for the public and workers.

Why do you start merging the lane closure so far away from the work zone?

The tapering process is a series of traffic control devices, such as cones, that merges vehicular traffic from one lane into another in a safe and efficient manner. The primary consideration is traffic speed. The higher the speed limit the longer the taper. A freeway lane closure with a 55-mph speed limit would use a 700-foot taper. A highway with a 40-mph speed limit requires a 350-foot taper, or longer than the length of a football field. It may be longer if there are curves or hills in the roadway.

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