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Drivers Need To Know: Do Road Construction Flaggers Have Any Authority And Is Training Required?

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Flaggers are such a common sight wherever road work is being done that many drivers have no idea just how much authority flaggers have; thus these drivers sometimes avoid a flagger's direction. Actually, flaggers are a very important part of every road construction project. They move vehicles and pedestrians through or around work zones safely, while protecting construction workers and equipment. As a driver who must put a lot if trust in the flaggers at road construction sites, you may be surprised that training and/or licensing isn't always required. This is especially surprising because working as a flagger can be a very hazardous job. Keep reading to learn why you should follow flaggers, and the specific training they get for this important job.

A Flagger's Level of Authority

A flagger's level of authority is not spelled out in black and white, and is regulated by each individual state. But, in most cases, you can look to your state's vehicle laws to find out just how much authority a flagger has in your area. This will provide you and other drivers with good information about whether you have to obey a flagger's direction and what the consequences are if you don't. For example, in Pennsylvania there are 2 sections of the law that helps determine how much authority a road construction flagger has.

Section 3102 of the state's Vehicles Law grants authority to law enforcement people, private security workers, and interestingly, funeral-home employees during a procession. In a nutshell, this law reads that no one is allowed to willingly refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction given by an appropriately attired person who is authorized to control, direct, and regulate traffic. Here, the flagger is considered to be an appropriately attired and authorized person.

Section 3111 of the same law says that unless told by a uniformed police officer or other appropriately attired person who is authorized to control, direct, and regulate traffic, drivers must obey the instructions of all official traffic control devices. Here, a flagger is considered to be an official traffic control device, just like a road sign.

If you don't obey a road construction flagger, then you will be cited for failing to obey their directions. The citations given to drivers who disobey flaggers are the same as the fines for disobeying road signs. Keep in mind that many states double the fines in construction zones.

Licensing And Training Requirements For Flaggers

In order to make drivers like yourself feel more safe and secure about following the direction of flaggers, the flaggers usually have to go through special training courses. The licensing and training requirements needed to become a flagger vary by state, but most states do require a special certification to do this dangerous job. One organization that provides training and certifies people to work as road construction flaggers is the American Traffic Safety Services Association, also known as the ATSSA. This organization offers a course that certifies flaggers for 3 years. This course covers topics that include but is not limited to:

  • Equipment and gear
  • Traffic control
  • Handling of traffic paddles
  • How to handle irate drivers
  • Proper staging locations
  • 1 and 2 lane closures
  • Communication techniques

For people who live in South Dakota and are interested in working as a flagger, they must be at least 18 years old, and have obtained a flagger certification. To obtain certification, a person must attend a training course and pass a written test. This certificate is good for 2 years. Also, flaggers must always have proof of certification on them at all times while working on Department Of Transportation projects.

In 2010 alone, there were 576 fatalities from motor vehicle crashes in work zones. This proves just how important a road construction flagger job is to keep both motorists and road workers safe. By giving a flagger the same authority as a road sign, they are able to do their job at directing traffic without a lot of backlash from drivers. All states require some sort of training in order for a person to work as a flagger, with some going so far as to require certification. But this training is relatively short and prepares people to handle the flagger job to the best of their ability, since your life  is in their hands.  For more information, click here to investigate


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