Road Construction Season Is Here, Don't Be A Statistic
(Photo credit: @INDOT_WCentral)
A semi crashed into an attenuator behind an INDOT truck in a work zone on S.R. 63 near Danville. Thankfully - amazingly - no one was hurt.
Indiana University-Kokomo never threw me out, even though I regularly found “better” things to do than attend basic chemistry, basic math, or whatever else I was taking. Honestly, I don’t remember - I was hardly there. And I remember getting a late start on my forty-minute commute to Kokomo one morning, then approaching a work zone at a speed that might have challenged the track record.
Man, I got busted back to the stone age. I barely breaked past the cones, the workers (rightfully) went nuts, and I had a state trooper behind me - rollers on - after no more than a tenth of a mile. I got dressed down like I was at boot camp and ticketed into a lower tax bracket.
Even went to high school with the cop. No difference.
As with all of the dumb, irresponsible crap I did on the roads when I was a kid, no one was hurt - thankfully.
Wait, I did run over a guy making a left onto Delaware after I moved here. But that’s it.
We’re really getting into the meaty part of construction season. Barrels are being dropped and picked up on all of your favorite interstates and county roads. Really, it’s a time for a lot of us to repent then reform our irresponsible driving habits. You know, all of the hits: Texting while driving, anything that involves a phone, ignoring turn signals, sleeping, porn - all that stuff. After all, police crash data shows that in 2014, 14 people were killed and more than 400 were injured in INDOT work zones.
I can’t imagine those numbers are any better, since smart phones are now issued with every birth certificate.
And really, it’s your butt. Nationally, four out of five people killed in construction zones are drivers and riders instead of the highway workers, which makes sense. A four lane road that's reduced to two lanes increases the chances of a head on collision. Rear-end crashes - the most common work zone crash - can develop when a careless driver rushes into a work zone and hits someone obeying the reduced speed limit.
Bad things happen when drivers are irresponsible. Speaking of...
HELP! WHY DID I WRECK?
It probably had to do with priorities, as in anything but driving is your priority. When I first started doing traffic, several members of the Indiana State Police requested that I say “crash” instead of “accident.” The reasoning? An accident implies that nobody’s at fault.
Think about that. Have you ever been in a collision where a driver wasn't at fault, as in the crash was a complete act of God, or something? In my lifetime, every time I crashed someone screwed up - usually me.
We could do any of the following:
- Text while driving
- Change lanes without signaling
- Fail to yield the right-of-way
- Text while driving
- Dial the phone
- Talke on the Phone
- Text while driving (I like this one)
- Flat out not pay attention
I’m not perfect, and neither are you. Meaning we could have the best attentions but still cause a crash - in or out of a work zone - even with no harm intended.
HELP! HOW DO I DRIVE SAFELY IN A WORK ZONE?
How do we stay safe in work zones? By relying on some very remedial yet often ignored rules of the road, such as:
- Be prepared for the unexpected, and understand work zone configurations can change in a heartbeat - and without notice.
- PUT THE PHONE AWAY. Even talking on the phone can make a driver unattentive.
- Be ready for reduced speed limits, narrowing lanes, wholesale changes in traffic patterns.
- Work zones - believe it or not - will more than likely bring about human beings who are working on the roads, and aw schucks Jimmy, they’re just like you and I! They eat, breathe, sleep - and even have families.
- Keep distance between your car and the car in front of you. Remember, rear-end collisions are the most common crash in a work zone.
- Watch for flaggers, and do what they say. Watch for signs - and yes - do what they say.
- Expect delays, keep your cool, and try not to get frustrated.
Check out this very nifty resource from INDOT for additional details on driving safely, including state law on navigating work zones. Also, I’m keeping an eye out for construction work that could give you a problem going to and from the homestead. I’ll let you know the stats and facts here, at @WIBCTraffic, and of course on 93 WIBC.
Until then, please be safe.
Matt Bair doesn't have a stoned pet raccoon, but he accidently struck a deer with dilated pupils. He's the new voice of Indianapolis traffic, and can be followed on Twitter @WIBCTraffic. Tips? Call direct at (317) 684-8134 or the 93 WIBC Newsroom at (317) 637-6397.