Over Correcting Leads to Two Dead on U.S. 1

Two women were killed Wednesday, January 6, 2010 in Hobe Sound Florida near Stuart, Florida in a two-car collision. The accident occurred around 1 p.m. involving a northbound silver Saturn, driven by a 52-year-old woman and a southbound red Mercury van driven by 73-year-old woman.

The Florida Highway Patrol reports the Saturn overcorrected after veering off of the side of the divided highway of U.S. 1. The car then careened over the center median and into the southbound traffic lanes where the Saturn was struck by the oncoming van. Both vehicles reportedly came to a stop in the middle of the southbound lanes. One of the drivers was pronounced dead at the scene and the other motorist died a short time later.

Our condolences are extended to the families of these two women. In just a moment their lives were extinguished. We are very sorry for your loss.

Construction Hazards on our Roads
We have no more on this accident such as the road condition and whether the individuals involved were wearing seat belts. We do know there is a great deal of road work underway on U.S. highways which contribute to highway deaths. The fact that one driver overcorrected indicates she experienced a drop off the side of the road.

In a recent article in the New York Times, entitled “Efforts Lag to Improve Safety at Work Zones,” reporters note that pavement edge drop-offs are a real hazard that result from so-called road improvements.

Accidents involving road drop-offs kill about 160 people every year and injure 11,000. The edge of a road is supposed to gradually decline into the dirt, but numerous studies have shown that steep drop offs occur when a roadway has not been finished properly or is in the process of being improved. That presents a danger to motorists who tend to overcorrect when they suddenly drop off the edge of a roadway.

In Texas in 2002, seven people were killed when the driver overcorrected into the path of a minivan. It turns out contractors had failed to smooth out the edge of a newly paved lane.
Work zone accidents across the country have killed at least 4,700 more than two a day and injured 200,000 over the last five years. Add the fact that work zones often include obsolete lane markings, a failure to erect warning signs and concrete barriers, and the hazards increase.

Yet there are no laws or regulations for safety in work zones, the Times reports. And the temporary fixes can stay in place for years. One review by traffic officials in Ohio finds that work zone crashes caused accident rates to jump as much as 70 percent.

All of this is of special concern as the administration is planning to spend $27 billion on highway construction. The Federal Highway Administration says on its Web site that the number of people killed as a result of crashes in work zones remains significant. “Safety and mobility impacts from work zones will likely be magnified with the infusion of a large number of new projects.”

By all means – slow down in a work zone and never assume that motorist safety is the first concern of those overseeing the project.

Source reports: http://www.justicenewsflash.com/2010/01/08/florida-auto-accident-killed-collision-1_201001082941.html; http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/economicrecovery/workzones.htm