|JEFFERSON CITY - MoDOT crews will be out improving Missouri roads throughout the summer months. Drivers have been asked to buckle up, watch for signs, slow down and stay alert when driving through work zones. MoDOT has reported that five MoDOT striping crews were involved in crashes and narrowly escaped injuries while painting lines on Missouri roads this spring. No MoDOT employees suffered serious injuries; however, the driver of a semi-truck was killed in one of the crashes.
Inattention, impairment, speeding, following too closely and texting while driving are all suspected as the causes of the crashes. Even though the striping crew trucks are equipped with TMAs - truck mounted attenuators at the rear bumper that are filled with a material designed to absorb the energy of a crash and provide a barrier of protection, they are still hit with major consequences. These striping crews avoided serious injuries by mere inches:
- The driver of a car on Interstate 44 near St. Clair barely avoided hitting a striping crew on March 26 by swerving at the last minute, but in the process rolled her car numerous times.
- On March 30, on Interstate 270 at the Tesson Ferry exit near St. Louis, a motorist driving about 60 miles an hour rear-ended a vehicle driven by a MoDOT intermediate maintenance worker. The driver received two tickets and totaled his car.
- A MoDOT senior maintenance worker was driving a TMA behind a striping crew on April 22. They were on Interstate 29 near the Mound City exit when he looked in the rear view mirror and saw two semis, side by side, coming straight for him. At the last moment, one semi swerved back into the other lane, but not before totaling the TMA and ripping the front axle from his vehicle. Seat belt use saved them from injury. The semi driver admitted inattention was the cause of the crash.
- A striping crew in downtown St. Louis barely escaped injury on May 12 when a semi-truck driver who was passing a striping operation passed three TMAs and then clipped the yellow paint carriage on the striper, nearly ripping it from the truck. The semi narrowly missed the driver's head. The crash spilled paint and glass reflective beads onto the roadway. The tractor-trailer fled the scene and hit another car at the next intersection where he was arrested.
- James Evans, a seasonal worker for MoDOT was on his first day back on May 18 when the TMA truck he was driving as part of a striping crew was struck on Interstate 70 near Concordia. A semi-truck ran into the back end of the MoDOT truck and it rolled twice before coming to rest in the middle of the median. Evans was wearing a seat belt and was able to walk away from the crash. The truck driver wasn't and didn't.
Between 2004 and 2008, 79 people were killed in work zones. Since 2000, 15 MoDOT employees have been killed in the line of duty. Hitting and injuring or killing a highway worker in Missouri could result in a fine up to $10,000 and loss of a driver's license for a year. Perhaps, the penalties aren't severe enough.