The New York Times recently reported about the dangers caused by drop offs left over from highway construction zones.
Car accidents involving dangerous drop-offs kill about 160 people and injure 11,000 each year. Numerous studies have shown that the steeper the drop-off, the greater the danger.
In Texas in 2002, seven people were killed when a car slipped off a sharp edge of roadway and onto the shoulder, causing the driver to overcorrect into the path of a minivan. Four years before, six people died in a succession of car accidents in another Texas work zone, where contractors had failed to smooth out the edge of a newly paved lane.
there are virtually no laws or regulations mandating safety measures in work zones. There are standards, but they are loosely enforced and differ from state to state. As a result, there are few penalties levied against contractors when, because of ignorance, carelessness or a desire to save money, guidelines are violated. Problem contractors often just keep on getting hired, and dangerous practices remain uncorrected, sometimes for years.
“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 happening.”
$27 billion from President 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 again.
To read the complete article, click here.
It will be interested to see if the federal stimulus money will result in a decrease in dangerous drop off and eventually better and safer roads.