Crashes raise concern for workers, public

(Filed October 11, 2013) MADISONVILLE, Ky. — Two incidents in as many days, one involving a fatality, point to the many hazards faced by highway crews as they go about their work.

On Thursday, Oct. 10, a passenger vehicle struck the rear of a Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) spray truck traveling along the Pennyrile Parkway in Hopkins County. The KYTC truck was traveling about 60 mph, when the accident occurred. Though the passenger vehicle ran into the median, damage to both vehicles was minor and there were no injuries.

However, a similar incident on the Purchase Parkway on Wednesday, Oct. 9 resulted in the death of a Marshall County man when his pickup struck a KYTC District 1 vehicle near Mayfield in Graves County.

The KYTC flatbed truck, with a mounted spray tank, was traveling about 15 mph while a crew sprayed herbicide along the Purchase Parkway median. The spray truck was trailed by a KYTC safety truck with an illuminated arrow, other caution lights, and a “crash cushion.”

The driver of the pickup passed the safety vehicle on the right side but then steered back into the left lane and crashed into the rear of the spray truck.

The pickup driver died at the scene.  The driver of the spray truck and a passenger were transported to Jackson Purchase Medical Center for treatment of non life-threatening injuries.

KYTC District 2 Safety Coordinator Shelley Singleton said having two similar incidents in as many days is “unnerving” even for veteran employees who often work along Kentucky highways.

“All of our employees are aware of the hazards they face each day,” Singleton said.  “These two near-identical incidents illustrate what can happen anytime our crews are working in and around traffic.

“All it takes is one moment of distraction or inattention for things to go bad very quickly. This illustrates why we constantly remind people to slow down and use extra caution whenever they see a work zone or a highway crew at work.  We want our people and the public to be safe,” Singleton said.

 
In the past three years in Kentucky, 11 people died and 471 people were injured in highway construction and maintenance work zones.
“Virtually everything we do at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is based in a continuous effort to improve safety on Kentucky highways,” said KYTC Secretary Mike Hancock, who also serves as Gov. Steve Beshear’s designated representative for highway safety. “Safety is of paramount importance for everyone concerned – motorists who travel our roadways and the KYTC and contractor employees who work every day to improve and maintain those roadways.”