Traffic Control Plans Prevent Traffic Jams

Worker Hydrating

Construction Workers reviewing traffic control plansTraffic Control Plans typically consist of engineered drawings and written instructions that contractors use during the construction of a project that requires traffic control. These are usually necessary for temporary traffic control that guides and protects traffic passing through or around a work zone.

The primary function of a traffic control plan is for the safe and efficient movement of people and vehicles using the roadway for transportation during construction work that may require traffic control devices, lane closures, or access guidelines. And to make sure it happens while protecting on-site workers, incident responders, and equipment while providing for the efficient implementation of construction and maintenance of the area.

Because the needs of all road users through a work zone are an essential part of the construction process for the contractor developing any city, state, or federal work zones. Making this happen comes down to four primary functions:

  • Efficient traffic flow
  • Enhanced safety
  • Minimized inconvenience
  • Adequate mobility for all road users

Work zone traffic control is one of the first things that should be considered in the project development process. This is especially true when a large project requires complex or significant temporary traffic control plans. In these instances, a variety of staging options should be considered. This may include construction cones, uniform traffic control devices, safety signs, and any other options to separate workers and public traffic.

What Causes Traffic Jams?

We’ve all been stuck in them before, but why is there a traffic jam in some cases but not others? Sometimes the traffic just flows by with no problems. But other times cars are lined up for miles. And this can be at the same location depending on the day, or even the hour! Safety systems are standardized across the nation So why the huge variance from one place to the next?

There are two prevailing theories as to how to mitigate the effects of a traffic jam.

  • Use ALL lanes for as long as possible.
  • Get in line early on and be prepared to file through the work zone.

Both of these traffic control theories overlook the underlying causes of traffic jams, and truly just determine the location of the jam. The two true causes of traffic jams are mistakes merging and inattentiveness.

Mistakes Merging

Just about everyone would agree, merging is one of the biggest challenges for drivers today. Yet there are very few who would categorize themselves as a part of the problem — myself included. This is what makes it so tricky. Merging requires the coordinated efforts of all involved to keep traffic moving. Traffic control plans can only do so much if drivers aren’t following the traffic control plans. The two variables that are of the most importance in merging are speed and space.


Speed is the primary responsibility of the one doing the merging. They are responsible for matching the flow of traffic if at all possible. Failure to do so results in a slowdown of traffic following and a resultant decrease in space. This makes all following merges more difficult and dangerous to execute. Subsequently forcing further slowdowns to compensate.


Space is the responsibility of the driver in the lane being merged into. Space refers to the distance between the front bumper of their car, and the car in front of them. The driver must maintain a minimum of at least 3 seconds worth of space between the cars at any given speed. With that distance increasing as speed increases. For example, if the car in front of you were to pass a mile marker, you should be able to count 3 seconds before that same mile marker passes your front bumper. Maintaining this distance gives merging vehicles room to merge without forcing drivers to slow or stop to make room for them.


Man Driving And TextingInattentiveness’s role is a simple one. Being inattentive prevents drivers from adequately execute their responsibilities mentioned in the traffic control plans in the previous paragraph. When drivers are busily goosenecking at the activity around them, they aren’t watching the road or vehicles surrounding them. A lack of focus and attention is the single greatest cause of traffic jams and accidents on our highways today. As a driver, wherever you are, your life and the lives of those surrounding you all depend on you. Be aware of them. Pay attention to the traffic control plans and do your part.


In summary, please, be aware. Keep your eyes on the road and follow the simple suggestions here when driving. The more people who instill these good practices, the safer our roads will be, the better traffic control plans will work, and the fewer traffic jams we will experience! Maintain a safe distance, and speed, and spread the word! And if you need anything related to traffic control — rentals, signs, or anything else, contact Captial Barricade today.

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