According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, every year approximately 100 construction workers are killed in roadway work zones around the nation. On Tuesday morning, a semi truck failed to merge into the left lane quickly enough and chose to drive around a Department of Transportation arrow truck by going onto the right shoulder. He struck and killed a 55-year-old Highland man who was at work repairing the shoulder on I-39. The fatal construction accident is a grim reminder of the hazards faced by the workers who build and maintain Illinois' roads.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention track data regarding construction industry deaths. The CDC indicates that road construction deaths represent roughly 8 percent of total construction deaths. Nearly half of the road construction fatalities are caused by moving vehicles and construction equipment.
There are many safety measures in place to protect construction workers and motorists from these accidents, but they are reliant on people to obey the guidelines laid down. Work zone speed limits are meant to slow down traffic and give people ample time to adjust to the conditions of the work zone. Workers wear bright colors to make them highly visible to motorists and to each other. Signs are posted in advance of a construction zone so drivers are not caught unaware of the approaching danger. When workers and drivers obey the rules and watch out for one another, the risk of an accident is greatly reduced.
The accident on I-39 is still under investigation. Whether the 76-year-old semi driver will face charges depends on the outcome of that investigation.
Source: Rockford Register Star, "Construction worker hit, killed in Lee County," 20 March 2012