Rules of etiquette for roadworks sites

With so many roadworks sites around the country, we need to establish some rules of etiquette for their use, apart from just speed.


First rule of roadworks etiquette should be that all bikes be allowed to shuffle to the front of the queue.

I’ve done this on many occasions at the ubiquitous remote red light machines or where there is a worker holding a STOP/SLOW sign.

Where there is a worker, they often strike up conversations, mainly talking about the bike I’m riding and telling me useful information about the works, how long they will continue and how long the hold-up will be.

It’s all very friendly and I’ve never had a motorist honk or make rude gestures. Most seem to know bikes accelerate quickly and I’ll be out of their way as soon as the traffic moves again.

On only one occasion did the STOP/SLOW worker get upset with me shuffling to the front of the queue. I graciously informed “Mr Hitler” with the sign that I would be out of the way of the queue of trucks and cars as soon as he turned his sign around. He argued, but he then got the message to turn the sign and I proved my point by quickly getting out of his sight (at the posted speed, of course).

Also, you don’t want to be exposed at the back of the queue in case the next driver hasn’t seen the signs and rear-ends you!

ETIQUETTE RULE #2Roadworks queue - etiquette

Etiquette rule number two should be that trucks and caravans, or any vehicle that is towing, should pull over 100m before the sign and allow all other vehicles to get in front.

This would ensure vehicles are not held up by slow-moving vehicles trying to return to the posted regular speed after the roadworks zone has ended.

One of the most frustrating things about roadworks is not the work site, but the long procession of vehicles following trucks out of the work site.

Motorists get frustrated by slow-moving trucks and try stupid overtaking manoeuvres.

It is a matter of safety that heavy vehicles and those towing should be made to pull over and allow other vehicles to pass or display some courtesy and pull over after the roadworks site to allow vehicles past.


Roadworks speed limit - potholes - etiquette

The third rule of roadworks should be that slow-down speed signs and warnings about queueing traffic and possible delays shouldn’t be so far in advance of the actual work site.

This is actually a government requirement and it’s so over-proscriptive in an attempt to protect the lives of the workers, it actually has the opposite effect of endangering workers.

Instead of slowing the traffic, what happens is this: You see the roadworks and reduced speed signs far in advance of the works site and the traffic slows. But then motorists start to think that the works have finished or been closed down because there is no sign of roadworks ahead, so the traffic starts accelerating again. And that’s about the time you actually hit the roadworks!

The result is you are now going too fast or everyone suddenly hits the brakes. Either result is dangerous for road users and workers.

I don’t agree with speeding through roadworks, but I do believe we shouldn’t slow down too far in advance.

I recently slowed down to the required 40km/h and had several vehicles pressing on my rear wheel that I simply had to speed up again.

That’s dangerous for riders and dangerous for the road workers.


  1. I’ve done number 1 on some roadworks between Yass and Cowra last year, and got chatting to the workers, who kindly informed me that there was a Highway Patrol vehicle that had just pulled up a few cars back that I hadn’t spotted. I’m pretty sure that that guy saved me a few points on my license that day.

  2. Like the others, have to disagree with most of this.

    You forgot the safest reason for bikes filtering to the front – traffic in front, in a compressed group, can hide the surface of the road from you….maybe you’re too close, but being able to see further ahead is a definite advantage. After all, you may be riding on the unrepaired, potholed, fractured section of the road. Some worksites they actually get the bikes to the front anyway…..

    Trucks and caravans – they often take a while to get up to speed and you have to remember that if they take time getting moving it also delays traffic at the other side(ever seen a column of traffic come the other way then a 5 minute delay and a lone caravan following) – frustrating for people at the other end. You can always pass them further down the road anyway(most truckies I’ve encountered will make an opportunity for you).

    Signage – there’s rules for good reasons, and rules that get imposed for bad reasons. Bad reasons like giving warp-speed idiots the hint for just a bit longer in the hope they slow down.

    One site I stopped at required an escort vehicle ahead of traffic due to the number of dickheads that thought the signs were optional and 110kph was OK through the worksite…..I’d rather have the signs than mandatory escorts. (must be something in the air on the Blackall range).

    Replace all of the numbered stuff with “be nice, be respectful of others and don’t be an idiot”.

  3. Mark, this is total crap. I’m surprised that a professional journalist should come out with such nonsense. I ride a bike too. Lots of bikes. For decades. There’s no special reason why bikes should automatically be allowed to go to the front of the queue. Drivers usually don’t complain because the bikes will be gone in a second. But that doesn’t presuppose that motorcycles should get preferential treatment. It’s nonsense.

    Next, why the hell should people with caravans and slower vehicles pull over.? They’ve got a right to the road as well. Faster drivers can just suck it up. And if their vehicles are so quick, they can easily overtake. And besides, if you’re so concerned about safety, you certainly don’t want an extra queue of slow Joes waiting for an appropriate chance to follow the hares. You talk about courtesy; well show a little for the slower movers. You talk as if bikers are special. Well they’re not. We’re all just people trying to move along. Get real.

    As for point number three, it seems you’ve already been told about that. Drivers and riders should obey all the warning signs. It’s as simple as that. If they lose a few seconds or minutes, so what? It’s not for us to second guess sign positioning. There might well be mistakes, but you can suck that up too.

    Let’s cut the elitism crap, huh?

    1. People with caravans and slower vehicles should pull over because it’s just common courtesy. A lot of truck drivers do the right thing but a lot of caravans I see on the road are incapable of seeing what is behind them because they do not have suitable mirrors so cannot see the kilometre line of traffic behind them as they trundle along at 70km/h usually in groups of three or four making safe overtaking just about impossible.
      As far as moving to the front of the queue that is just self preservation to avoid becoming the meat in the sandwich of the semi in front and the blind 4WD driver coming from behind. If I cannot get to the front, I always leave enough space to escape, stay in gear and watch the rearview mirrors. Even having a couple of cars pulled up behind won’t save you from a speeding B-double.

  4. there were some really bad accidents with vehicles coming around
    100k corners to suddenly find a stationary line of traffic extending
    past the warning signs, especially in the hunter region. i tried the stop/
    go sign bit once, and it must be one of the most dangerous jobs there is.
    There is always some idiot fiddling with the phone or stereo or just
    brain dead who misses the signs

  5. Mark, sorry bloke flaming time.
    Get yourself a traffic management ticket. Then work as part of a traffic management crew member.
    ETIQUETTE RULE #3 is total garbage. We all bitch about, or we should bitch about costs in maintaining infrastructure, manning another stop point, FFS.
    Signage and its spacing’s are strictly enforced by the relevant state roads boards. The only tolerance given is widening the gaps, for topography and geography, of the work site environment.
    Try walking a mile in their shoes first. I have.

    Consider yourself flamed.

    Grumpy Old Bastard.
    Ride free, ride safe.

  6. They tend to be very over zealous with 40 and 80k roadworks zones as well often there is absolutely no need for a reduction in speed or such a significant reduction
    the congestion and sudden speed drops can actually make the area far more dangerous for workers and motorists
    there should be multiple options rather than the one size fits all approach. I’ve seen 40k zones set up on major highways because a couple of guys are working sixty metres off the side of the road and might need to get a truck out occasionally.

    1. Get a traffic management ticket. Be onsite all day, not just passing by. Be involved with the Job safety risk assessment, be first onsite setting up signage, be the last to leave, cop the barrage of abuse, from drivers to worksite employees, put your life at risk, for shyte pay, all while complying with the relevant Roads board, OHS laws, Union rulings and worksafe laws., Walk a mile in these guys shoes for just a week, might just change your attitude too.

      Grumpy Old Bastard.
      Ride free, ride safe.

      1. Good point Mick. Ok, this is not a point on the article itself, but I think the common misconception is that the cones, barriers, signage and speed restrictions are there for the safety of motorists (“There’s hardly anyone working, I’m safe to drive at Xxxkph instead of 40!”) when the point is that they’re there for the safety of those working on site with big lumps of petrol powered metal flying past a few inches away! Yes, there are times when there may be no workers anywhere near the road, but I don’t for a second imagine it;s practical to move the barriers every time the concentration of work moves (or at lunch time!) It’s not a job I’d like to do for sure.

      2. You assume I have not done the job or know what’s involved or why the limits are set. While I have never been suicidal enough to stand holding a lollipop on a major road I have been involved in the process and been on a work site all day. My comment was about how some zones are over zealous and can cause a danger to workers and drivers and so there should be a more flexible approach.
        We have remote control signage available these days and it would be a good idea to use that signage to adjust a work zone as needed rather than cause a dangerous obstruction for the entire time of the work.
        As I said I’ve seen forty zones setup where the workers are a good sixty metres down a side street and the only reason for the zone is the occasional trucks that enter and leave the site. It is these sites that could use adjustable signage .

        1. Al, I work in the traffic management industry in WA, as people above have said there are very good reasons for the 40kph zones setup on highways hundreds of meters before the actual work site. As you have said, it’s for getting trucks onto and out of work sites. The 40 zones are set up so that trucks can safely enter and exit work sites without having other traffic bearing down on the, at 100 or 110kph, whatever the posted limit for the road is. This allows the trucks to accelerate and or decelerate safely without causing a multiple pile up scenario of bikes, cars or whatever. Signage is ALWAYS put there for a good reason and every site is approved by the local shire authority and/or the applicable federal roads authority in the state that you reside.

          The sites are setup with very specific spacings, which take into account safe stopping distances for heavy vehicles as well as smaller traffic.

          The sites are certainly not overzealous, it is done to cater for all road users, no matter what knowledge you may have of the system. There are also rules for minimum separation distances from a trafficable lane and the workers, in the case of any works, it is 1.2 metres. If they are further off the road than this distance, then speed reductions are not required, just worker symbols. However some, sites are setup with speed reductions as workers MAY require access to the trafficable lane. This is where you have a long site and you will have repeater speed reduction symbols every 250-500 metres. The temporary road work signs, especially speed reduction are legally binding and enforceable. It is only driver error that people decide the rules are not for them and they disobey the speed reduction signs.

          1. ?? are you agreeing or disagreeing?
            Being able to vary the speed zone when there is no need for it would be a good thing. Drivers would respect a variable notice more than a fixed one as they’d know there was a good reason for it. when you see a sixty or even a forty zone setup and no apparent reason for it you can become complacent and ignorant of why it’s there, that’s dangerous for all. I know the reasons for the zones and the dangers of large lumps of high speed metal, but when you look at some of the zones how they are setup and what they have been setup for and the time it takes to set them up and the danger the workers face while doing so you begin to see that some cause more danger than they prevent .

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