Roadwork creates deadly hazards for drivers

Discussion in 'Texas Bikers' started by anonymous, Dec 29, 2009.

  1. anonymous

    anonymous Guest

    Roadwork creates deadly hazards for drivers

    08:38 AM CST on Tuesday, December 22, 2009
    Mike McIntire, The New York Times

    By the time Bryan Lee headed to work along FM51 west of Fort Worth on
    Sept. 15, 2005, the road-building industry and its government
    overseers were aware of a deadly, though easily corrected,
    construction hazard: pavement-edge drop-offs.

    Accidents involving dangerous drop-offs kill about 160 people and
    injure 11,000 each year. Numerous studies have shown that the deeper
    the drop-off, the greater the danger.

    Yet when the contractors repaving FM51 discovered they lacked
    sufficient equipment, they decided to pave only part of the roadway
    and finish the rest days later, leaving a sharp drop-off that ran for
    miles within the travel lane. A state inspector warned that it was
    dangerous, but no one – not his superiors, not the contractor –

    Two days after that warning, Lee, a 26-year-old oilfield worker with a
    wife and two sons, rounded a curve and the wheels of his motorcycle
    slid off the asphalt edge. He tumbled from the bike and was run over
    by a pickup truck.

    The deadly accident was one of thousands in highway work zones across
    the country that have killed at least 4,700 people – more than two a
    day – and injured 200,000 in the last five years.

    Few regulations

    Behind this human toll is a host of hazards: concrete barriers in the
    wrong position, outdated lane markings, warning signs never deployed.
    Yet there are virtually no regulations mandating safety measures in
    work zones. Standards differ from state to state.

    As a result, few penalties are levied against contractors when,
    because of ignorance, carelessness or a desire to save money,
    guidelines are violated. Problem contractors often keep getting hired,
    and dangerous practices remain uncorrected.

    Ultimately, the hazards persist through a kind of collective
    indifference, a presumption that accidents happen.

    But interviews and government documents, along with a review of more
    than 100 legal cases involving work zone crashes around the country,
    illuminate a more complex calculus of blame.

    "A lot of work-zone crashes are entirely preventable," said David
    Holstein, Ohio's chief traffic engineer. "It's not explainable by just
    driver error or inattention. We can intervene to keep them from

    After transportation officials in Ohio created a system to monitor
    work-zone crashes in real time, they were startled to discover that
    the presence of construction caused accident rates to jump as much as
    70 percent, Holstein said.

    "We were seeing that crashes were happening day after day after day,
    and nothing was being done about it," he said. "Sometimes there were
    hundreds of crashes over the life of a project."

    Stimulus package

    Now the stakes are increasing, as $27 billion from President Barack
    Obama's economic stimulus package is prompting a nationwide boom in
    highway construction. Federal transportation officials are concerned
    that work-zone fatalities, after declining in recent years along with
    traffic deaths in general, could rise.

    Transportation officials are responding pretty much as they always
    have: by focusing primarily on drivers.

    Jesse Sepeda knows the system well. He is a safety director for a
    major highway contractor in Texas. He also lost his 18-year-old son,
    Anthony, in a work-zone crash last year.

    There were no warning signs or barricades, but a utility contractor
    digging a trench had parked a backhoe less than two feet from the
    travel lane on Wells Branch Parkway in Pflugerville, where the speed
    limit is 50 mph. Construction industry standards say unused equipment
    should be at least 30 feet from the roadway.

    Anthony's motorcycle drifted too close and hit the backhoe. After the
    accident, the backhoe was moved and barricades went up. But the police
    found fault only with the victim, concluding he had probably been
    going too fast.

    "I'm in this business, and I can tell you that these things happen all
    the time and there is nothing to hold a contractor accountable," his
    father said. "In most cases you can't do anything except go to court,
    and meanwhile the contractor just goes on doing his work and killing

    Mike McIntire,

    The New York Times
    anonymous, Dec 29, 2009
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  2. anonymous

    louie Guest

    U r write, I still have a one block dynamic model out front.

    Drop-outs drop-off

    louie, Dec 31, 2009
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