It is getting to be that time of year again—the time when we see orange road-construction barrels going up across the country. Construction is underway near Rockford on I-90, as well as on I-39, U.S. 51, U.S. 20, Illinois Route 173, and Illinois Route 2. Road construction can be inconvenient and frustrating—greatly increasing the amount of time we spend in our vehicles. However, the resulting road improvements usually justify the short-term disruption.
Unfortunately, road construction can be more than an annoyance—it can be deadly for construction workers and those who share the road with large trucks. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that, over the last five years, 1,000 people died and another 18,000 were injured in work zone crashes involving trucks over 10,000 pounds.
Differences Account for the Danger
So, why are large trucks especially dangerous in a road-construction zone? It boils down to differences in stopping distance and size between a large truck and a passenger car. When traveling at 55 miles per hour on a long, flat, dry stretch of road, a fully loaded 18-wheeler requires 50 percent more stopping distance than a passenger vehicle does. That means trucks are unable to react quickly to changing road conditions. In addition, they are extremely heavy—significantly outweighing a passenger vehicle.
Because work zones can be confusing, with lane shifts, narrow lanes, stop-and-go traffic, speed-limit changes, and confused motorists, a truck driver who is not paying close attention can easily hit a smaller vehicle, causing catastrophic injuries and even death.
Have you seen or experienced a truck crash in a road-construction work zone? What happened? Share your experiences in the space below. Your insights may help another person to avoid a serious accident.