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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Driving safely at roadworks

Careless driving through roadworks on motorways causes accidents and delays and puts road workers at risk of injury and death. Learn what to expect, what the signs mean and how to prepare, so that you don't cause an accident.

Caution: roadworks ahead

Speed and distance

Driving at 70 mph, you will reach roadworks in 51 seconds

Every year road workers are killed and injured as they work to maintain and improve the motorway network. All these deaths and injuries could be prevented.

The Highways Agency video 'Respect our road workers' shows the effects of accidents at roadworks. You can view the video in the format you choose (including a text-only transcript) by following the link below.

The speed limits at roadworks are there to protect drivers too. It is vital for your own safety to reduce speed as the road environment changes, eg with reduced lane size and safety barriers.

Look for the roadworks signs

Roadworks range from long-term work involving lane closures to quick 'rolling' repairs. They may take place night or day. In each case there will be signs showing drivers what to expect and when.

For quickly completed roadworks you may see signs on the back of working vehicles. For normal temporary roadworks the signs may be mounted by the side of the road.

There is also a range of high-visibility electronic signs. These are often found overhead on gantries and the messages can change depending on the conditions.

You can download a PDF of roadworks signs from the Highway Code by following the link below.

Traffic flow at roadworks: expect the unexpected

Lane closed

When you see this sign flashing from an overhead gantry it means the lane beneath is closed and you must not drive on it

Roadworks can make traffic behave in unusual ways. It is important that you pay attention to the signs and give yourself time react to:

  • new traffic patterns
  • contraflows (where traffic on one or more lanes travels in the opposite direction to normal)
  • narrow lanes
  • workers in the road
  • lane closures
  • restricted views or reduced sight of the road ahead
  • temporary speed limits
  • detours
  • slow-moving equipment
  • concrete barriers

Where to get more advice

The Highways Agency has produced a detailed leaflet on 'Driving through roadworks'. You can download a copy by following the link below. You can also phone the Highways Agency Information Line (0300 123 5000) and ask them to send you a copy.


The THINK! safety campaign advises drivers to take extra care at roadworks. In particular:

  • keep to the speed limit - it's there for your safety
  • get into the correct lane and don't keep switching
  • focus on the road ahead, not on the roadworks
  • be alert for works traffic entering or leaving the roadworks
  • keep a safe distance from the car in front - there could be queues ahead
  • pay attention to the road signs

Additional links

Drive with care

Road and weather conditions may change, so drive with care

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