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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Death toll tops 70 in work zones

Friday, March 30, 2007

Doug Sosbe with the Greencastle Dept. of Public Works polishes the new logo on a dump truck, reflecting the name change recently approved for the city street department. All vehicles in the fleet will eventually bear the new logo.
A total of 70 people died in Indiana work zone accidents between 2001 and 2005, according to statistics from the Indiana Department of Transportation.

Additionally, more than 40,000 people are hurt nationally each year in work zone crashes and one motorist, passenger or highway worker is killed every 8.2 hours, or about three per day.

Statistics like these have prompted highway officials around the state to declare April 2-6 as Indiana Highway Work Zone Safety Awareness Week.

Local officials have joined the campaign as well, in light of the fact that several work zone accidents have occurred inside Putnam County in the past.

As recently as January, an INDOT worker directing traffic at the scene of an overturned semi-tractor trailer on U.S. 231 near the Montgomery County line was accidentally struck by a passing car. The driver apparently did not see the worker in the early morning darkness and struck him, knocking him down and causing injuries.

Cloverdale INDOT Superintendent Fred West told the BannerGraphic this week that the worker was hospitalized for a time after the accident but has since made a full recovery and has returned to work.

With the spring construction season now under way, West wants to remind motorists to be alert for workers in construction zones.

"Drivers need to stay alert, pay attention and slow down in construction zones," West said.

Greencastle Street Commissioner Paul Wilson, who is preparing for a busy construction season, recalled a time before he became commissioner that a city street worker was struck by a truck in a work zone.

"I think the whole thing is to identify a work zone ahead and slow down as you approach it and drive through it," Wilson said.

This week Wilson, a certified trainer for the state, sat down with his employees and reviewed the procedures for handling work zone safety. The workers were instructed on directing traffic through the work zone and were told to be alert at all times.

Unfortunately, drivers don't always pay the workers that same kind of attention.

"There's different times we look up and the sign has been knocked over or has been taken," Wilson said.

For the state, safety training, or a Daily Safety Briefing, occurs every time workers head out to a job site.

West said the goal is for each worker in a work zone to know what the other is doing at all times. Procedures are in place to warn all workers at the same time to get out of the way if it appears a driver is not going to stop.

"Everybody just knows what everybody else is going to do," West said.

INDOT suggests the following tips for drivers in work zones:

-- Expect the unexpected by watching for signs, narrow driving lanes and workers who are standing next to the road,

-- Pay attention to all posted signs, including special speed limits,

-- Merge as soon as you see the signs to help traffic flow more smoothly,

-- Slow down when you see the first orange sign; don't wait until the last possible second to slow down,

-- Keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you; don't tailgate,

-- Minimize distractions, such as cell phones,

-- Plan ahead by anticipating a construction zone and allow yourself more time to reach your destination.

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