Last year in Indiana, 12 persons were killed and 602 were injured in work-zone crashes. Two of those deaths were highway workers and in both instances, alcohol was a factor. On average, four of every five work-zone deaths are drivers/passengers, not highway workers.
Earlier this week, an eight-semi accident in Vigo County closed the interstate for several hours after the chain-reaction crash began with traffic stopped in the work area.
Motorists are reminded that the Indiana Department of Transportation has signage in place to warn motorists of the approaching construction zones and the required reduction of speed. The maximum speed limit in a construction zone is 45 mph when workers are present; otherwise the maximum speed limit is the limit posted near the construction zone entrance. Pay special attention to the flashing speed-limit warning signs.
Putnamville troopers working the construction zone recently stopped one motorist for traveling 76 mph in a 45-mph zone with workers present. The driver had a prior conviction for a construction zone speeding offense, which resulted in the fine being enhanced to $500.
A second motorist was stopped for 77 mph in a 45-mph zone with workers present. The second driver was a first-time offender. The standard fine for a first offense is $300. A third offense is $1,000.
While those are just two examples, there are many others, State Police said. Excessive speed in a work zone is illegal and extremely hazardous to everyone.
The current I-70 construction zone project begins at the Indiana/Illinois state line and ends near the six-mile marker. The project will continue into November. Work will be done some nights, which may cause additional hazards requiring extra attention from drivers. Another I-70 project between and 7- and 11-mile markers began in April and is expected to end in August.
Indiana State Police, along with the Indiana Department of Transportation, encourage motorists to pay extra attention, slow down, and use patience when traveling through construction zones. Passing vehicles are literally inches away from highway workers doing their best to make sure we all have good roads on which to travel.
Meanwhile, State Police offer the following tips to help keep construction zones safe.
-- Watch for orange "Road Construction Ahead" signs and be prepared to react to stopped or slowing traffic. Follow all lane restrictions as posted.
-- Do not tailgate. Most injuries and deaths in work zones are caused by rear-end collisions. Obey the posted work zone speed limit.
-- Do not cut other vehicles off or change lanes across solid white lines. Signal all lane changes.
-- Make sure all occupants in your vehicle are properly secured with a seat belt or child safety seat. Seat belts save lives and help prevent minor crashes from becoming major catastrophes.
-- Do not engage in distracting behavior such as talking on a cell phone, texting, changing radio stations, eating, applying makeup or talking to passengers.
Drivers are encouraged to avoid possible congested conditions often associated with construction zones by seeking alternate routes of travel. The locations of road construction zones are available by calling INDOT's Traffic Wise at 1-800-261-ROAD (7623) or at www.TrafficWise.IN.gov.