NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Officials with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) said contracted crew vehicles have been hit by drivers not paying attention twice in two days, and it’s a problem that needs to be addressed.
On Monday, a wrong-way driver hit a work truck on Briley Parkway, dislodging a propane tank. Then on Tuesday, a driver on I-65 hit another crew’s attenuator from behind as they were working on guardrails. The attenuator absorbed the impact of the crash and only minor injuries were reported.
“To have a couple in a short time frame is frustrating,” said TDOT spokesperson Rebekah Hammonds. “Guardrail repair, construction projects, restriping a road, we try to do that during the overnight hours, 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., so that they are not in high peak travel times, so it really does limit their exposure, but, as we’ve seen, both of these crashes happened during those time frames.”
While TDOT isn’t reporting an increase in work zone crashes, officials said it’s a problem they consistently deal with from year to year.
“We continue to have this problem where people either aren’t paying attention or they’re distracted, or maybe they don’t see it,” said Hammonds.
It’s not just a problem in Middle Tennessee; data from the Federal Highway Administration shows the issue is increasing nationally. A report out this year cites a 39% increase in work-zone fatalities from 2020 to 2021 involving commercial vehicles. For drivers and passenger cars, the number of deaths jumped from 863 in 2020 to 956 the following year.
Following this week’s crashes, TDOT’s message to drivers is to pay attention.
“If we aren’t being able to slow down and move over for these crews, it’s not just their lives that are at stake; it’s also your life,” said Hammonds.