Roadworkers complain about the dangers of motorists speeding through roadworks, but they must share some of blame for putting themselves in danger with the way they handle speed limits.
The problem stems from being over-proscriptive, over-cautious and, in some cases, lazy with their signage. Don’t take my word for it. Even the RACQ pointed this out in their submission to the Queensland Government last year when they were calling for public submissions on speed limits.
In a separate section on roadworks speed limits, the RACQ pointed out that often the speed restriction signs (and other signs) are positioned too far ahead of the actual work. This over-proscriptive use of speed limits can cause some motorists to slow down, but when they see no roadworks for a long time, they speed up again. Also, many motorists have become so used to roadworks speed limits placed too early that they don’t bother slowing down until the last minute.
Either way, it is placing the lives of roadworkers in danger. It also causes dangerous tailgating of those motorists who actually obey the over-proscriptive signs. On some occasions I have ridden at the posted speed through roadworks only to have irritated truck drivers sitting dangerously close to the rear of my bike. That’s particularly dangerous, especially for vulnerable motorcycle riders.
Motorists are ignoring roadworks speed limits because they have lost faith in road workers to do the right thing. How many times have you see ridiculously low speed limits when there is no roadworks in progress, or when they have finished for the day? Are road workers so lazy they can’t change the signs when they aren’t working or when their work situation changes? How long does it take to cover up a sign?
The RACQ also pointed out that 40km/h speed restriction signs are used “irrespective of the type of work being carried out”. Sometimes the work is being carried out a long way from the roadside, or even behind massive concrete barriers where the passing traffic represents no threat to the wellbeing of the workers. Yet they have ridiculously low speed limits posted.
The RACQ also complained about a lack of signs to reintroduce the prevailing speed limit, or situations where the speed limit sign is placed too far past the actual end of the roadworks.
They pointed out that there should be greater use of electronic Variable Message Signs to manage traffic speeds around breakdowns or crashes on high-speed motorways.
“All of these can result in poor driver compliance with speed limits at road work sites and so addressing these concerns should be a priority for improving work site safety in Queensland,” it concludes.
Have you seen inappropriate signage at roadworks? Have you done the right thing and been tailgated through roadworks? Tell us what you think.