Thursday, June 13, 2019

After several close calls we’re asking everyone to help us keep our workers and everyone on the road safe

By Barbara LaBoe

The busy roadway construction season is still gearing up – and will only increase during summer – yet we’ve already seen too many close calls in our work zones.

In just 28 days – from April 23 to May 15 – we had three work zone crashes. Each time, someone struck one of our truck mounted attenuators – large accordion-like devices attached to the back of a truck to absorb a crash’s impact and protect crews up ahead. The TMAs did their job and shielded our crews, but that’s still way too many close calls.

On April 23, a pick-up truck struck a TMA on northbound I-5 near DuPont. No crew members were hurt, but the pick-up driver was taken to the hospital complaining of pain.
The electronic message board on top of this TMA was directing traffic to move over,
but the yellow attenuator was still damaged in a collision.

On May 15 another TMA was hit on State Route 16 near Gig Harbor while working with a road sweeping crew. Our driver pulled forward and honked the horn when he saw the other vehicle failing to stop, but the TMA was still struck and damaged.

The far left corner of this TMA was clipped along SR 16 near Gig Harbor, even though
the TMA driver pulled forward to minimize the impact.

Five days later, on May 20, a car struck a TMA in a closed lane on southbound I-5 in Seattle and then spun around due to the impact and also bumped the maintenance truck up ahead.
This accordion-like truck mounted attenuator crumpled from the force of the impact
 it absorbed in a crash along I-5 near Seattle.

In each case there were warning signs about the work up ahead, but drivers either didn’t notice or didn’t slow down in time to avoid the collisions. Thankfully, in all three cases no one was seriously injured, but with more construction on the way, we need everyone’s help to avoid more crashes in the coming months.

Help us help you

We know summer construction can be frustrating, but often this is the only time of year that the weather is dry enough to complete major projects and make needed repairs. We try to schedule work at night or off-peak times when possible, but that doesn’t work for every project.

We need the public’s help in keeping everyone safe in work zones. We work hard to provide our crews training and equipment – but everyone has to do their part.

Our workers are someone’s child, spouse, parent or loved one and they’re out on roadways to help keep everyone safe. They – and everyone traveling – deserve to go home to their families at the end of their shifts.

So, whenever you’re in or near a work zone please remember to:

  • Slow Down – drive the posted speeds, they’re there for your safety
  • Be Kind – our workers are out there helping to keep you safe and improve the roadways
  • Pay Attention – both to workers directing you and surrounding traffic; put down your phone when behind the wheel
  • Stay Calm – expect delays, leave early or take an alternate route if possible; no meeting or appointment is worth risking someone’s life.