It’s common for motorists to disobey the temporary speed limits and other signs at roadworks sites. These signs are mandatory – not advisory – and road users not only risk fines if they exceed the temporary limit, but compromise their own safety and that of other motorists and workers.
A high number of crashes at roadworks are due to loss of control of a vehicle where speed is a contributing factor. Motorists should always slow down and be ready to stop when approaching roadworks. Any works will be clearly signposted, with different signs warning of the various hazards.
Different temporary speed limits depend on the type of hazard. Contrary to common perception, lower speed limits aren’t just because workers may be present. There may be other hazards that are not obvious to motorists.
Temporary speed is set according to the risk. It will be set at 30km/h if road workers are present, if the road is reduced to one lane or if there are stop/go controls, either automated or remote-controlled. Where temporary barriers physically separate road workers and traffic on open roads, speed is set to 70km/h or 80km/h. Even with these measures in place, the lower speed is needed because the lanes may have been narrowed or the alignment changed, and there is a lot of distraction off to the side.
Other hazards may include areas of road with no seal, which could catch people out – especially at night. The temporary speed limits have to consider all road users, including motorcyclists and cyclists, whose tyres have very little contact with the road, creating the potential to lose control on a patch of repair more easily than a driver of a car or larger vehicle.
Even once a road is repaired, a temporary speed limit will stay in place to help the new surface imbed, if the road markings haven’t been redone or because loose chips are present.
Reported for our AA Directions Autumn 2021 issue
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