Drive time

Safety tips for VT drivers

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New rules and reminders for work zone safety

As unlikely as it may seem today, before we know it spring will be here, and road crews will be hard at work repairing and improving our roads to make them safer for all of us. National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week, beginning on March 31, aims to keep them safer while they’re out there. To help, Vermont law now prohibits the use of handheld portable electronic devices (including cell phones, PDAs, MP3 players, tablets and laptops) while operating a moving vehicle in a work zone, except for certain emergency communications. Penalties range from $100 to $200 and 2 points for a first violation, and from $250 to $500 and 5 points for subsequent violations. But far worse than a stiff penalty is the risk that road workers may be injured or killed. They deserve a safe place to work, and these tips can help:

  • Remember that work zone means any properly posted construction, maintenance or utility work site, and rules apply 24/7, not just during the workday.
  • Slow down! Speed limits are reduced and fines for speeding are doubled in work zones for a good reason:  to protect the workers.
  • Follow instructions from flaggers and signs.
  • Pay extra attention, minimize distractions and expect the unexpected.
  • Do NOT use handheld devices; it’s illegal in Vermont, except for certain emergency communications.
  • Turn on headlights for better visibility.
  • Be courteous, and merge as instructed, as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • Don’t change lanes in the work zone, tailgate, or crowd the road crew. Maintain at least your 4-second following distance and give road workers as much space as possible. Try to keep up with the traffic flow.
  • Expect delays and schedule extra time, or seek an alternate route.
  • Be patient. Remember that they’re working hard to improve the roads for all of us.

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Submitted by the VT State Police, VT Department of Motor Vehicles, VT Agency of Transportation, VT Sheriffs Association, and the AARP Driver Safety Program.