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Line painting and work zone safety

May 14, 2011
By DAVE WERNER - Franklin County Traffic Safety Board ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

At the April meeting of the Franklin County Traffic Safety Board, the new federal mandates for retro-reflectivity were explained to the Board and to a large number of town and village highway superintendents that were invited to this important meeting. A future "Did You Know" on this subject will be forthcoming.

However, the highway superintendents requested an article be released about work safety involving the spring ritual of line painting on our roads and highways. This article addresses that issue and expands to include all work zone safety.

We usually think of work zones as construction in one area, or for some distance along a road, but we can also think of line painting as a "rolling" work zone. We all know how important lines along our roads and highways are, and how much more difficult driving is where there are no lines, or where they have been worn off. So, let's be more tolerant of our work crews as they re-paint these lines in the spring.

Painting lines usually involves the paint truck, another truck to warn motorists approaching the paint truck from behind, and often traffic cones to prevent motorists from driving across the newly painted lines before they are dry. Driving across a line while it is still wet damages that line and causes paint marks where they shouldn't be. It can also splatter on your car, something you might not be too happy about.

So, give the workers a break - go slowly through work zones, including the areas where fresh lines are being placed on the road. Don't jeopardize their safety while they do you a favor.

In May 2005, three state Department of Transportation workers were killed by a commercial bus speeding through a work zone on Interstate 81 in the town of Chenango (near Binghamton). As a result of this tragedy, the "2005 Work Zone Safety Act" was passed. This legislation doubled the speeding fines within a work zone and suspended a driver's license for two work zone violations within an 18-month period. It also led to the creation of the State Police Traffic Incident Management Team, which consists of 100 troopers statewide, who as part of their duties enforce Vehicle and Traffic Law in work zones.

Work zones are certainly not there to inconvenience you - they are necessary to improve the roads for everyone. Don't get complacent while driving in work zones. Just because you don't see workers, doesn't mean they are not out there. Often reduced speed limits in work areas are necessary because of broken pavement or alignment changes and not solely because workers are present.

Driving is a full time job - do not multi-task by using a cell phone, applying make-up, changing radio stations, etc. This is even more important than ever in work zones where unfamiliar or constantly changing driving patterns exist.

If you are aware of road construction on your intended route, leave your house early, or use an alternate route to avoid time lost in delays. The state DOT routinely updates road construction projects in local newspapers. Be aware of possible delays. And lastly, stay calm you can't do anything about it.


This and all previous Did You Know articles may be found on the Franklin County website at

Dave Werner can be reached at



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