Construction Zone

POTENTIAL FOR SERIOUS INJURY OR COLLISION

SUBJECT: TRUCK REAR ENDS CAR IN CONSTRUCTION ZONE DATE: 02/28/2010 CRASH CASE NUMBER: 10005 REFERENCE: CDL Manual (#2 Safe Driving); 2.6.7 Work Zones; 2.8.2 Hazardous Roads FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CONTACT: LOSS CONTROL DEPARTMENT

How the Incident Occurred

After his final drop in Iowa, a truck driver was returning home on an early spring morning anticipating being able to join his family on the weekend (for a change!) As he began to near Chicago he flipped his sun visor down and squinted to see if the traffic up ahead was moving smoothly. After glancing over to the passenger seat in search of his sunglasses he turned back and realized that a highway work zone along with an entrance ramp had traffic backed up to a near standstill barely 100’ ahead. Travelling at highway speed he realized he’d be unable to stop in time. He tried to veer to the right but traffic was blocking him on both sides and he rammed into the rear of a passenger car causing a chain reaction of several vehicles.

Injury/Damage Information

An adolescent male child in the rear seat of the passenger car he hit suffered fractured vertebrae and was transported by medical helicopter. The parents were treated and released. No occupants of the other vehicles claimed injury at the scene. The passenger car was totaled, and several of the other cars suffered rear and/or front end damages.

Causative factors

  • The ultimate cause of this collision was the truck driver’s failure to recognize the hazard of the work zone and failure to adjust speed accordingly.
  • The truck driver failed to heed posted work zone speed limit signs posted a mile before the work zone.
  • Additionally, he failed to get the big picture by planning and compensating for the upcoming entrance ramp traffic.
  • The early morning sunrise temporarily blinded the truck driver from seeing any lit brake lights on the traffic up ahead.
  • Inattention resulted in him travelling over a ¼ mile while he searched for his sunglasses.
  • The truck driver had failed to plan an escape route, allowing him self to become trapped by traffic on all sides while travelling at highway speed.

Remedial actions

  • The collision was ruled as major/preventable and under the terms of the trucking company’s guidelines, the driver was discharged for violating safety policy.
  • All new drivers should receive defensive driving and hazard recognition training.

Cover all topics including: 1. Size up the scene – get the big picture 2. Plan an escape route – leave yourself an out 3. Expand your look-ahead capacity – aim high 4. Communicate your intentions – watch out for others 5. Take decisive action.

  • Defensive driving and hazard recognition training should be conducted with all drivers at least annually.
  • Keep eyes on the road ahead; check mirrors every 3-5 seconds. Do not text, talk on cell phone or operate computers, etc. while driving.
  • Anticipate early morning sunrise while travelling east, and evening sunset while travelling west. It can cause momentary blindness. Be prepared to put visor down and have sunglasses in shirt pocket and available if needed. Slow down when driving into sunlight – don’t overdrive the distance you can see ahead. If possible, select these times for your break and park the truck until the sun is well above or below the horizon.
  • Pay attention to changing traffic and heed highway warning signs.
  • Slow down for construction zones. Turn on flashers or hazard lights when approaching work zones.
  • Remember, at highway speeds, a truck may be traveling over 100 feet per second. This means that it will travel a football field every 3 seconds. A few seconds of distraction can create a catastrophic situation. Stay alert and keep your eyes scanning.

Anticipate and recognize the hazards of sun blindness and highway construction.

Adjust speed accordingly so you can reach your destination safely.