Source: The Times News (Twin Falls)
Author: Eva Stutzman
Faced with this summer's wall of road construction? Here are some tips to get through it
TWIN FALLS - The amount of road construction in the Magic Valley this summer tends not to bring out the best in any driver. It’s easy to get frustrated or overwhelmed by the flood of orange cones. And that can lead to driving mishaps and near-misses. “I have seen two people cut out into the right lane (before construction zones) to cut off people in the last week,” said Crystal Pyne, who commutes from Gooding to Twin Falls for work. The good news is some simple steps can make those trips easier. Above all, be helpful:the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)says the more drivers cooperate with each other, the quicker each will get through. Before you start up that engine again, here’s some other advice on dealing with work zones. ‘Pay Attention’ That’s the advice of Sgt. Kent Oliver of the Idaho State Police. “Most of the time when we stop people in construction zones, they don’t even know they are in one,” he said. Construction zones around the Magic Valley range in length from a couple of miles to not even one mile. “The Highway 30, 93 construction zone is a half-mile where the speed limit is 45 miles per hour,” said Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Deputy Ken Danson. “The signs have been up for over a month.” Slow Down Warning signs ahead of some work zones give drivers an extra reminder that the speed limit’s about to drop. Regardless, it’s a safe bet that if you find yourself next to construction, you’d better take it easy. “Idaho law states that you can’t exceed the posted speed within the speed zone,” said Nathan Jerke, Idaho Transportation Department spokesman. “This means people should be slowing down well before the speed limit sign.” To avoid fender-benders, Oliver and DOT recommend slowing down and increasing following distance well before you enter a construction zone. “People tend to need to stop quicker or in a shorter distance in a construction zone, so if you leave a little extra space and are going slower you won’t hit the person in front of you when they have to slam on the brakes,” Oliver said. Master Merging In most construction zones, drivers are asked to move over into one lane. These merge points are hot zones for road rage, traffic violations and accidents. One federal transportation recommendations in bottleneck situations is called zipper merging:drivers take turns letting one car out from each lane of traffic, so that each side moves at an equal pace. However, local law enforcement is wary of blocking both lanes of traffic even in the busiest times. “If there is an accident and traffic is backed up in both lanes, there is no way for emergency vehicles to get through,” Oliver said. “We are asking drivers to merge before they are forced to for their own safety and the safety of other drivers.” That said, it’s not illegal to stay in a lane for as long as it’s open. Drivers who do so should watch for vehicles pulling unexpectedly out of the line — waiting drivers often get frustrated with delays or with watching others pass them in the soon-to-be-closed lane, Oliver said.