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Officials urge drivers to slow down as road construction ramps up

By Brandon Smith, IPB News | Published on in Government, Health, Transportation
Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Mike Smith said Indiana saw more than 1,500 work zone crashes last year. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)

State officials want Hoosiers to be extra cautious on the roadways as road construction season gets underway.

Indiana has about 1,300 road construction projects this year. The state used to average about 800. But Indiana also saw more than 1,500 work zone crashes last year.

Richard Hedgecock represents Indiana road construction companies. And he said drivers slowing down makes the biggest difference. According to national data, Hedgecock said speeding was the leading factor in fatal accidents.

“Equal to the impact of drug use, alcohol use, medication misuse and distracted driving combined,” Hedgecock said.

To help improve safety, the state is deploying more “queue trucks” – vehicles that sit just off the road ahead of work zones, where traffic has started to back up. The trucks have colorful signs and flashing lights, warning drivers to slow down.

READ MORE: Lawmakers try again on construction zone speed cameras bill

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Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Mike Smith said the trucks are designed to prevent “hard-braking.”

“We know that every incident of hard-braking increases the likelihood of a severe accident,” Smith said.

Smith says last year, queue trucks helped reduce hard-braking in the work zones they were deployed in by 80 percent.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.