Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on August 27th, 2020,
by Zane Cagle

Impact Attenuators: MoDOT Reports Increased Crashes During Reduced Traffic

Posted on August 27th, 2020 by Zane Cagle

PAY ATTENTION is the simple point of the new release from MoDOT

So, you may not know what an impact attenuator is?  No doubt, you have seen these objects mounted on the back of a MoDOT truck or on the roadside.  An impact attenuator is an object designed to absorb impact when vehicles crash into it. A recent press release from MoDOT discusses the over 300 truck mounted attenuators used in an attempt to keep road crews safe over time.   MoDOT released information that they have experienced a surge in work zone crashes in a time when traffic has decreased over the last six months.  MoDOT has had 39 truck/trailer-mounted attenuators (TMAs) hit in work zones across the state compared with 19 at this time last year.

“We’ve had a 100% increase in TMA hits at a time when traffic on Missouri roads has decreased by nearly 50% for much of the year”, said MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna. “That is not only an overwhelming figure, it’s also completely avoidable with appropriate driver attention”.  This kind of distracted driving is contributing to dangerous conditions for Missouri road workers.  As the operator of a motor vehicle, you have to be on the lookout for work zones and TRUCKS on the roadway.  If you do not consider their safety, consider your own.  According to MoDOT data, they own more than 300 truck or trailer mounted attenuators that rare used to save lives by absorbing the impact of a crash in a work zone.  The goal of these impact attenuators is to protect MoDOT road employees and drivers who crash into them.

The number one to reduce these crashes is for drivers to PAY ATTENTION.

Distracted driving has been recognized as a major factor in motor vehicle crashes and specifically crashes with MoDOT vehicles, attenuators, and emergency assist vehicles. The number of crashes involving serious injury and death to MoDOT workers and emergency assist employees has been tragically high.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving has become one of the most dangerous of driver behaviors. It is extra tragic as safety groups have been making the public aware of the dangers of not paying attention while driving.  This is not a news flash.  Since 2014, cell phone related crashes in MO have increased by 35%. Using a cell phone while driving a car is potentially one of the most dangerous actions you can take while driving.  It may seem surprising to someone that distracted driving may be as dangerous as drinking and driving.  As we are a society of multi-taskers, some argue they are very good at texting and driving.   The results show that No, none of us are good at distracted driving. Clearly, we are not able to drive and utilize our hand held devices or crashes would not have increased by 35% !

If you need to adjust your navigation or must take a call, do it via voice commands only!  While you are driving, please focus on that driving. While you are driving, it is not the time to take selfies and post to social media.   If you absolutely cannot keep from snapping a selfie or posting on social media then pull over!  Pull over if you need to do ANYTHING other than talk on your cell phone.

In February 2020, a tow truck driver was struck and killed on Highway 65 north of Springfield, Missouri.  The actual number of fatally injured two truck drivers is astounding.  According to NIOSH researchers, it was found that 191 motor vehicle towing working were killed between 2011 and 2016 resulting in 42.9 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.  Other industries reported death rates of 2.9 per 100,000 workers.  As well, nonfatal injuries rate among motor vehicle towing was 204 per 10,000. According to NIOSH, this high rate of deaths and nonfatal injuries have largely been unaddressed.  While two workers and road construction employees already wear reflective clothing and survey for hazardous conditions, as drivers we MUST keep a lookout for these essential workers.

Likewise, motor vehicle-related incidents are the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths for law enforcement officers in the U.S.(CDC)  If you are ever in a motor vehicle crash, you will absolutely look forward to seeing the Missouri State Highway Patrol officer at the scene of a crash.  They administer first aid until emergency personnel can arrive and they secure the scene. One of the most important things a trooper will do is ensure safety. The trooper’s goal is to keep the crashed vehicles and persons safe at the scene and keep other vehicles from colliding.  When vehicles collide with police cruisers, it endangers the victims of  the crash and the officer.

Slow Down and Move Over

Since 2012, the state Slow Down & Move Over law requires drivers to slow down and change lanes when possible for any vehicle on the side of the roadway. Failure to do so could result in fines and/or imprisonment.  But, once a crash has occurred and you have hit a vehicle on the side of the road, the damage is done.  While driving, you should notice an emergency vehicle, patrol cruisers or MoDOT service vehicles on the side of the road whether it is day or night.  They are pretty big and noticeable.  According to the NHTSA, distracted driving claimed 2,841 lives in 2018 alone. Among those killed: 1,730 drivers, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians and 77 bicyclists.  Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading texts can take your eyes off of the roadway for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.  A lot can happen in the length of a football field!

Slow Down and Move Over is a pretty specific law. You don’t even have to read the actual law to get the point. Simply slow down and move over when you see a vehicle on the roadside.  If you have ever been stranded on the roadside, you know how fast vehicles whiz past you. The force of the wind current can rock your vehicle back and forth.  Vehicles on the roadside such as road crews, emergency vehicles and law enforcement have to be there as their work requires them to be there. Thus, please pay attention for you and them.

If You Have Been Involved in a Motor Vehicle Crash

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle crash, you will need legal representation. If you are a road crew worker, law enforcement officer or EMT personnel, these type of crashes can be extremely serious or fatal.  While no one should have to constantly be thinking about their safety while performing their job, distracted drivers do result in serious injures. The very concept of truck mounted impact attenuators is an engineering marvel but at the same time, we wonder why so many cars are hitting road maintenance trucks?

Call our attorneys at The Cagle Law Firm, toll free 1.800.685.3302 or locally 314.276.1681