Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

May 13, 2014

See cones, use caution

Central Indiana woke up Friday to news that two highway workers had died after a pickup truck crashed in an Interstate 69 construction zone on the northeast side of Indianapolis.

The crash happened about 6 a.m. in the southbound lanes of the highway, a couple of miles north of I-465, The Associated Press reported.

State highway department spokesman Nathan Riggs told WISH-TV those who died worked for a contractor doing overnight paving work. They were removing lane restrictions when the crash happened.

Those orange cones marking those lanes oftentimes are the only things separating fast-moving, two-ton vehicles from road construction crews. Friday’s accident is a reminder the crewmen’s very lives are dependent upon attentive driving by motorists.

But what those motorists might not realize is they’re more at risk of injury and death than the workers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 33,561 people were killed on our nation’s roads in 2012. That same year, however, 609 of those deaths occurred in work zones — 1.8 percent of all roadway fatalities. In addition, about 32,000 injuries occur in work zones.

What’s more, more than 4 out of 5 work zone deaths were motorists.

Most work zone accidents can be avoided, the Federal Highway Administration says. It offers these tips for driving safely in work zones:

• Expect the unexpected. Normal speed limits might be reduced, traffic lanes might be changed and people might be working on or near the road.

• Slow down. Speeding is one of the primary causes of work zone crashes.

• Don’t tailgate. Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead. The most common crash in a highway work zone is the rear-end collision.

• Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and workers and their equipment.

• Pay attention to signs. Warning signs are there to help you and other drivers move safely through the work zone.

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