Many motorists view road construction operations as an inconvenience. However, no matter how it seems to the motorist, road workers and flagmen are striving to improve traffic and road safety conditions, and it is up to the driver to be alert, aware, and responsive, writes Roland D. Nasasira.
On average, it is hard, if not impossible to drive for more than 50 kilometres without coming across an area where there are ongoing road construction works. If the entire road is not being constructed afresh or renovated, at least there will be sections that will be patched, which are also still considered construction.
Francis Asiimwe, a bus driver, recalls that when the Mbarara to Ntungamo road was still under construction, there were many changes that would happen almost every minute, especially with road signage.
“On one day, I could find a temporary hump mounted in a corner. The following day when making a return journey driving through the same place, the same hump would be moved to a different location. The road cones and triangles that guide traffic flow would also be changed,” Asiimwe recalls.
Unlike complete road sites, he is quick to advise and caution that you should be extra careful and attentive when driving in an area where there are road works going on because you never know what lies ahead.
“It is important to reduce your speed. While there may be pedestrians crossing the road as and when they want, you need to be aware that road construction is characterised by sharp objects such as nails that drop on the road. The stones that make up the tarmac and murrum material are also sharp. It is up to you to manoeuvre carefully through such places so that your tyres or car is not damaged,” Asiimwe explains.
You also need to beware of road construction materials such as huge stones and murrum that are deposited within the constructed areas. The slow tractors or graders that move these materials should also not be forgotten. They are hard and strong that when you knock them, it is your car that suffers the damage. You may also not be compensated as a result.
Narrow roads and closed sections
There is no doubt that most roads in Uganda are narrow in nature, except when it comes to climbing lanes where they tend to widen, but for a short time and distance.
Kennedy Musinguzi, a civil engineer, explains that most highways in Uganda were and are constructed in a way that they cannot contain or carry two lanes of outgoing and incoming traffic. You have to keep in one lane and after careful observation that there is no vehicle from the incoming traffic, is when you can accelerate to overtake.
“If you find road works taking place in such areas, it is obvious that one section of the road will be closed and the other left open. This means that there will be slow movement of traffic usually controlled by traffic marshals. It is at this point that you have to be patient because motorists on the outgoing and incoming traffic sides have to be released one at a go,” Musinguzi explains.
Insufficient road signage
Much as there are always road signs that warn motorists of road construction zones ahead, it never is enough, especially those that ask motorists to reduce speed. Even the few road signs in road construction zones are abused because different motorists behave and react to road signs differently. They tend not to respect the signs, neither the flagmen at road sites.
“Most motorists never want to be caught up and held in these zones for long. They want to reach wherever they are going within the shortest time possible. It explains why you will meet motorists that are impatient and will most likely tease or bully you,” Musinguzi advises.
Head or fog lights
Johnson Mwijuka, a long distance driver says upon reaching a road construction area, turn your fog lights on so that you can easily be seen on the road by other motorists. This is because most road construction zones are dusty, mostly caused by fast moving cars and trailers that raise and form thick clouds of dust.
“You also need to understand that most motorists may stop abruptly in road construction zones. This means that you have to drive carefully and create a safe following speed between your car and the one ahead of you,” Mwijuka advises.
Sure, construction zones are annoying and one of the leading causes of slow traffic. But is it not nice to glide over a freshly tarmacked, wider than normal road? Therefore, stay calm and alert while driving though road work and keep in mind how nice the finished project will eventually be.
The best safety signs for road construction
Road construction can be a dangerous job. Not only do you have the hazards of a regular construction site but you have the added risk of vehicles moving at high speeds. If people are not aware of a roadworks crew, there is an even greater risk. That is why road workers need signage. Signs warn drivers long before they get to the construction area that they need to slow down, move over or even stop altogether. Here are just a few of the types of signs that road crews can use to make sure that drivers are well aware of the construction:
Reflective safety signs
Reflective safety signs are a road construction staple. These signs are highly visible during the day and at night in vehicle head lights. Considering that major highway work often happens at night, this is an incredibly important quality to have in a sign. Reflective safety signs usually have messages for drivers. Using several of these signs is a good idea. Spreading them out and letting drivers know that they are getting incrementally closer to a construction site is usually common practice.
Stop signs are often used for ramps on highways. In a construction site, the normal yield signs of an on or off ramp may be replaced with stop signs. Sometimes, crews use stop signs to direct traffic on two lane roads that are restricted to one.
Tripod signs are great for quick jobs. These signs can use stops signs or reflective safety signs for the signs themselves, but use a tripod as their base. This makes them quick to deploy and then easy to remove when the job is done.
You can use yard signs for road work crews doing small jobs. You can place yard signs just like other signs to warn drivers. But you can also use them to show dates and times of construction. Or even point out a detour. You can also use these signs to display where the funding for the project came from.
If you need these types of signage for your road construction project, contact our team today to discuss which signs will work best for you.