Fatal crashes in road construction zones, like the one that killed two men on US 93 in Nevada this summer, occur across the country with incredible frequency. In this case, a tired semi-truck driver fell asleep upon approach of an active construction site, failing to note the long line of cars ahead of him.
In Boise, Idaho a long-haul trucker slammed into the back of a Jeep Wrangler slowed by a construction bottleneck. In Austin Texas, a driver of a Toyota Avalon entered Interstate-35 at a high rate of speed, unaware of planned construction near the entrance. His quick maneuvering to avoid congestion resulted in a collision with an 18-wheeler that ended his life.
Such sad stories are rampant across the United States. In Nevada alone, five fatal work-zone crashes occurred on U.S. 6 in 2017, all with similar stories to the ones listed above.
We’ve all been stuck in backups; slowed to a crawl because of a road construction ahead. Yet, all it takes is an inattentive, negligent driver to not notice the signs and signals of such a slowdown, and suddenly a highway work zone becomes an unavoidable danger zone.
Making people aware of temporary construction zones is not an easy task. From workers with flags or warning signs that tower above traffic to electronic overhead displays warning drivers of upcoming, slowdowns—highway management organizations use multiple methods to catch driver’s attention.
One new solution under consideration is temporary portable rumble strips. These long black bumps alert distracted or drowsy drivers through sound and vibrations as they cross the rumble strips, effectively waking up inattentive motorists to changing road conditions. Currently under study by the Traffic Incident Management Coalition of Nevada, the strips have the added, unintended benefit of slowing traffic approaching construction sites as well.
Victims of careless drivers require advocates who can speak on their behalf; individuals with the skills and experience to identify dangerous, bad decision making by motorists.
Responsible drivers respected the hazards of construction zones by easing speed and stopping when necessary. When other drivers do not choose the same path of accountability, rule-abiding drivers can quickly become injured victims.