(INDIANAPOLIS) – INDOT will try to make work zones safer by making them harder to miss.
INDOT is expanding an experimental program which debuted last year, alerting drivers to looming work zones by positioning trucks on the approach. The trucks are equipped with strobe lights, and with warning signs in Day-Glo pink and yellow-green, instead of the traditional orange.
Commissioner Mike Smith says work zones featuring the “queue trucks” saw an 80% drop in the number of drivers slamming on the brakes, an action he says is a major cause of work-zone crashes.
Jamming the brakes too hard isn’t the only factor in work zone accidents. All the factors which increase accidents elsewhere on the road are in play in work zones as well. State Police Superintendent Doug Carter says while Indiana’s hands-free law has reduced the number of people looking at their phones while driving, it hasn’t eliminated the problem completely. And Richard Hedgecock, president of the construction industry group Indiana Constructors, says speed is a factor in 30% of crashes — and by far the leading factor in fatal crashes.
Hedgecock says the emphasis on work zone safety is partly about protecting highway workers in their workplace, but even more about protecting drivers on the road.
Indiana had 1,529 work zone crashes last year. Five people were killed.