08/20/13 Each year lives are lost in construction zone crashes nationwide. Construction zone workers are struck by vehicles passing through the zones and vehicle occupants are killed most often in rear end collisions that occur when traffic begins to slow or stop. This danger has become all too evident most recently in northwestern Indiana. On July 31 and again on August 15 traffic was slowed or stopped in a construction zone or construction zone back up when, on both occasions, a semi crashed into the rear end of a passenger car pushing it into the rear of another semi and killing the occupants of the passenger car. In the August 15 crash, seven people died including four children seven years of age and younger. The primary cause of both tragic incidents, DRIVER INATTENTION.
While these most recent tragedies happened in northwestern Indiana, such crashes can happen anywhere. Drivers must follow the direction of construction zone signs to include speed limits and lane restrictions. But most of all, drivers must PAY ATTENTION!! Construction zone crashes can be reduced by following these tips:
1. PAY ATTENTION!! When you observe signs indicating a construction zone is ahead, prepare to reduce your speed to observe construction zone speed limits, make lane changes as directed by signage, and be alert for vehicles ahead of you slowing or stopping. Remember, back-ups can occur miles from the actual construction zone.
2. Make appropriate lane changes IMMEDIATELY upon seeing signs indicating a particular lane will be closed ahead. Although traffic will be moving slower, by observing this traffic control device immediately, bottle necks can be reduced or avoided thus reducing the likelihood of traffic coming to a complete stop.
3. As drivers enter a construction zone or construction zone back up, keep a significant distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead.
4. Watch traffic in your rearview mirror as it approaches from behind and be alert for possible escape routes ie, shoulder of the roadway, ditch, or median should vehicles approaching you from the rear appear as though the may not be slowing down or may not be able to stop before striking your vehicle in the rear end.
5. Be alert for workers in the construction zone and give them as much room as possible while traveling through the zone.
6. Avoid distracting behavior in construction zones. Stay off your cell phone, don’t look away at construction work, avoid eating or drinking while traveling through construction zones, and STAY ALERT!
As annoying and inconvenient as construction zones can be, our nation’s roadways need to be maintained to allow for safe travel and the movement of interstate commerce. By staying alert at all times, observing the signs and other traffic control devices, taking your time, and being tolerant of other motorists, construction zone crashes and the serious injuries and fatalities that often result can be greatly reduced.