Road construction signs

12 minute read Published on May 21, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

Orange construction sign on the side of a road with orange lighted arrow, barrels, and cones.

Have you ever driven through a construction zone and weren’t sure what to do? We’re going to tell you. Continue reading for a list of driving rules and safe driving tips that will help you navigate construction areas in your city and beyond.

Driving through construction areas in Canada

Driving rules in construction areas vary across Canada, but generally speaking, you will be expected to slow the speed of your car considerably when driving through a construction zone.

For many drivers, it probably feels like construction is happening all the time in your city. Thus, seeing yet another neon orange construction zone might evoke feelings of frustration or even rage. It’s crucial to stay calm when driving through a construction zone. Otherwise, you run the risk of missing an important piece of signage, such as a speed limit sign or a detour sign, failing to stop at a stop sign, and you increase your chances of engaging in aggressive driving behaviour, like speeding.

All of this makes you more likely to cause an accident, which is the last thing you or your car insurance company wants. So, when driving through a construction zone, make sure that you remain calm and proceed with caution until you are safely out of the hazardous area.

What is the speed limit in a construction zone?

There is no standard speed limit for all construction zones in Canada, so drivers will find that it varies. Typically, highway construction zone speed limits are between 50 km/h and 70 km/h, while construction zone speed limits on residential or secondary roads are far less, often between 20 km/h and 30 km/h.

Since there is no standard for all construction zones, keep your eyes peeled for speed limit construction signs, indicating the maximum speed your car should be travelling while driving through the construction zone. To be on the safe side, it’s always best to slow down considerably as soon as you enter a construction zone, even if you have yet to see the posted speed limit sign.

Failure to abide by the posted speed limit in a construction zone or any other instructions dictated by signage, e.g., ignoring a detour sign, can result in hefty fines.

What is a construction zone?

You might be wondering: What is considered a construction zone? Construction zones in Canada are typically areas defined by traffic control devices, like road construction signs or pylons, which are often neon orange in colour. The markings will be most defined at the start and end of the construction zone. Depending on the time of day and the road conditions, e.g. if a two-way street is being reduced to one lane, there may be a traffic control person helping direct traffic through the construction area. Anytime that you approach a construction zone, it is wise to slow down and prepare to come to a complete stop if necessary.

The hazards of construction zones

Why is it so important to slow down when driving through a construction zone in Canada? First and foremost, construction personnel often work in a construction zone. Construction personnel should be treated as pedestrians, and when driving by pedestrians, you must always proceed with extra caution, as a single-car accident can be life-threatening when it involves a pedestrian.

Further, a few other reasons that construction zones can be hazardous are due to physical road conditions. When a construction project is being performed, it’s possible that there will be loose gravel, debris on the road, a change to the alignment of the lanes, uneven road surfaces, and even potholes.

You can find a list of pothole tips here. Visibility might also be impacted when driving through construction zones. All of these factors make driving through this type of area more dangerous. The last thing you want is to get into an accident or accidentally drive into a piece of debris and have it damage your car.

Please note that if you notice a road hazard outside of a construction area, you should report the road hazard to your municipality.

Construction signs in Ontario

To help you identify a construction zone in Ontario and to know how to adhere to the signs, we have made a list of the most common types of road construction signs and what they mean below:

Construction sign

A typical construction sign is usually neon orange in colour, diamond in shape, and has a black border with bold black lettering that reads: construction. This sign may also have an arrow pointing in the direction of the construction and the number of kilometres until you reach the construction zone, e.g. 1 kilometre ahead.

Roadwork ahead sign

The roadwork ahead sign is another common construction road sign in Ontario. This sign is square in shape, neon orange in colour, and depicts a person holding a shovel. This means that construction work is happening on the roadway you are approaching.

Survey crew sign

A survey crew sign means that surveyors are surveying or assessing the land and road nearby. The sign is square in shape, neon orange in colour, and depicts a person looking through a telescope.

Traffic control person sign

A traffic control person sign means a construction zone is ahead, and a traffic control person has been assigned to that zone to direct traffic. Thus, the driver must be on alert for further instructions from the traffic control person. They should drive slowly until they see the traffic control person and be prepared to follow their hand or verbal signals. This sign is square in shape and depicts a person holding a sign.

Entering a construction zone sign

The entering construction zone sign is usually square or rectangular with a black border and a white background. It will typically state exactly what it means, e.g. it will have lettering that spells out: Construction Zone Begins.

Temporary detour sign

A temporary detour sign indicates that, due to construction, drivers must detour from the regular traffic route. This might mean merging into a different lane or taking an alternative route altogether. This sign is diamond in shape, neon orange in colour, and features a black border with a black winding arrow.

Arrow sign with flashing lights

Sometimes, when you approach a construction zone, you might notice an arrow zone with flashing lights. Follow this arrow as it exists to direct traffic to the appropriate location. This sign will usually be orange and rectangular, with a black arrow adorned with small flashing lights pointing in the direction of where drivers should travel.

Milled or grooved pavement sign

The milled or grooved pavement sign is usually diamond in shape, neon orange in colour, and it has a black border with a person driving a car over uneven pavement. The purpose of this sign is to warn drivers that the pavement has recently been milled or grooved and so to proceed with extra caution. Driving over this type of pavement can increase the risk of skidding, causing motorists to lose control of their cars.

Lane ahead closed for road work sign

The lane ahead closed for road work sign indicates that one lane on the multi-lane road you are travelling on is temporarily ending due to roadwork. As such, those in the affected lane will need to merge into an open lane.

Closed lane sign

A closed lane sign indicates that an entire lane is closed due to construction, and motorists must merge into the other lane at this point. The sign is usually diamond-shaped and orange in colour and will have a bold black arrow pointing in the direction that drivers must travel due to the closed lane

Pilot vehicle sign

A flashing pilot vehicle sign signifies that drivers cannot pass a pilot or pace vehicle. This sign is usually rectangular in shape, orange in colour, and has a black border with a photo of two cars side by side and a red circle through them, along with the words: When Flashing.

Stop and slow signs

You might notice a temporary stop or slow sign as you approach a construction zone. A traffic control person might even be holding these signs. You must come to a complete stop if you see a stop sign. If you notice a “slow” sign, it means slow down and proceed. Please note that stop signs are usually red, and slow signs are usually yellow, though the latter are different from yellow speed limit signs.

Detour marker sign

Detour marker signs are usually placed along a detour route for the duration of the route until the motorist can connect back with the regular road.

Double fines sign

Lastly, some construction zones will have a double fines sign. This is a square sign with a white background and black lettering that typically reads something like "Speed fines doubled in construction zones when workers present." The purpose of this sign is to remind drivers that fines can be hefty if they are found to be speeding through a construction zone. According to the Highway Traffic Act, fines are double the usual rate if you are caught speeding in a construction area where workers are present.

What are the primary causes of accidents in construction zones?

The leading causes of accidents in construction zones are not all that different from the leading causes of accidents anywhere on the road. The only difference is that the consequences can be more significant since there may be more pedestrians or road hazards in a construction zone. The primary causes are as follows:


Speeding is a major problem in construction zones, with many drivers deciding not to reduce their speed when travelling through a construction area. No matter what road you are driving, speeding increases your odds of getting into an accident.

Distracted driving

Distracted driving is another common cause of car accidents in construction zones. Distracted driving includes everything from texting and driving to eating, drinking, smoking, or talking to other passengers while driving. The risks of this are high, especially in a construction zone when it could cause you to miss an important construction sign.

Not following construction road signs

Even if you are paying attention and see a construction road sign, you may decide to disobey that road sign deliberately. This can lead to hefty fines, demerit points, and, more importantly, can increase your chances of getting into a car accident.

Safety tips for driving through a construction zone

Construction zones are all too common across Canada, so knowing how to drive through safely is in your best interests if you want to become a responsible driver and possibly even qualify for a safe driver insurance discount. Follow the tips below to improve your driving skills when moving through a construction area:

Check your GPS before leaving home

Nowadays, most modern GPS systems update in real-time and will notify you of any construction zones on your route. So before leaving home, check the navigation app of your choice to find out if you will come across any construction areas en route to your destination. This way, if you discover any, you can plan an alternate route to avoid the construction zone, or at the very least, you will be prepared to drive through it.

Remain alert and vigilant

When driving through a construction zone, it’s essential always to remain alert and vigilant. This is because construction areas often have additional signage, traffic control personnel giving instructions, and hazardous road conditions. As such, 100% of your focus and attention should be on the road.

Maintain a safe following distance

Maintaining a safe following distance is an important safe driving tip. Even when travelling at a reduced speed, you should still leave plenty of room between you and the car ahead of you. This will give you more time to react or stop suddenly if need be. Aim to leave three seconds’ worth of space between your vehicle and the one ahead of you.

Slow down

Slowing down is one of the most important driving rules for travelling through a construction zone. Even if you have yet to notice an orange speed limit sign, if you’ve seen other signs indicating that you are entering a construction zone, it’s always wise to slow your speed. Remember that fines for speeding in a construction zone are harsh, not to mention the demerit points that will go on your driving record. Don’t risk it.

Entertain yourself if you have to wait

In severe instances, you might be forced to come to a complete stop for some time in a construction zone. In this case, have a backup plan. For example, listen to a podcast or audiobook, call a friend, or nibble on a snack. Having something to do will not only help the time pass quicker but can help you stay calm. Otherwise, you could become frustrated and aggressive, which won’t help anyone.

Never tailgate

Engaging in aggressive driving behaviour, such as tailgating, is a big no-no, especially when driving through a construction zone. As mentioned above, leaving ample space between your car and the car in front of you is paramount. Otherwise, you risk not giving yourself enough time to brake and hitting the car in front of you - or worse, a construction worker. If you were found to be tailgating, then you are likely to be held liable for the accident and would need to file a third-party liability car insurance claim with your provider.

Get in touch with BrokerLink to learn more about road construction signs

If you want to learn more about how to drive through a construction zone or what various construction road signs mean, contact BrokerLink today. We can help you navigate this complex driving scenario and provide all sorts of tips to ensure you get through construction areas safely.

We can also make sure that you have a quality car insurance plan that will protect you should you end up getting into a car accident in a construction zone. For instance, we can help you add the following types of auto insurance to your policy:

As auto insurance experts, one of our licensed brokers can make a personalized recommendation as to the best coverage for your needs. We also offer free quotes to all customers. Get in touch today to request your free car insurance quote. It takes as little as five minutes and can be done over the phone, in person, or online. We look forward to guiding you through your car insurance journey and finding you the most affordable rate for your coverage.

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FAQs on driving through construction zones in Canada

What is the fine for speeding in a construction zone in Ontario?

If you are caught speeding in a construction zone, the fines are double their usual rate. Speeding fines in Ontario are based on the speed that you were travelling at when you are caught. For instance, if you are caught driving 20 km/h over the speed limit in a construction zone, you would end up paying a fine equivalent to driving 40 km/h over the speed limit on a normal road.

What happens if I do not obey the speed limit sign in a construction zone?

Consequences are harsh for failing to obey the posted speed limit sign in a construction zone. In Ontario, you could receive a hefty fine, get up to three demerit points, and have your driver’s licence temporarily suspended.

Do speeding tickets impact your insurance premium?

Yes, both speeding tickets and demerit points can impact your insurance premium. Both will go on your driving record and as such, your insurance company will see them and can raise your rates accordingly. If you recently got a speeding ticket and demerit points, you should expect your insurance premium to go up the next time that you renew your policy. It likely won’t go back down until the ticket is no longer on your record, which can take a number of years.

Can I pass other cars when driving through a construction zone?

Passing other vehicles when driving through a construction zone is not a good practice. This is because the road conditions are usually more hazardous, and the odds are higher of a lane ending abruptly or the road being down to one lane. If you wish to pass another car, the safest time to do so is after exiting the construction zone.

If you have any questions, contact one of our local branches.