Highway Accident Report - Work Zone Collision Between a Tractor-Semitrailer and a Tennessee Highway Patrol Vehicle

Jackson, Tennessee
July 26, 2000

NTSB Number: HAR-02-01
NTIS Number: PB2002-916201
Adopted May 14, 2002
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Executive Summary

About 8:52 a.m. on July 26, 2000, an eastbound 1999 International truck tractor pulling a loaded semitrailer, and traveling at a driver-estimated speed of 65 mph in a 55-mph work zone, collided with a Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) vehicle trailing construction vehicles. Witnesses reported that the patrol car exploded and caught fire at impact. The patrol car was pushed approximately 192 feet before it came to rest in the median. The tractor-semitrailer continued through a 61-foot depressed earthen median and into the westbound lanes, where it collided with a 1997 Chevrolet Blazer. The tractor-semitrailer then continued across the travel lanes and came to rest in a wooded area on the north side of I-40. The State trooper in the THP vehicle was killed, and the Chevrolet driver was seriously injured.

The following major safety issues were identified in this accident:

  • Lack of communication between the Tennessee Department of Transportation, its contractors, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
  • Inadequate planning and coordinating of traffic control responsibilities between highway construction personnel and law enforcement officers before engaging in work zone activities.
  • Need to train officers in safe traffic control procedures within highway work zones.

As a result of this accident investigation, the Safety Board makes recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the National Sheriffs' Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

Recommendations

To the Federal Highway Administration:

Review and revise the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices to provide guidance on coordination with law enforcement personnel used in traffic control strategies at highway work zones. (H-02-02)

In cooperation and consultation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs' Association, and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, develop a model training program for law enforcement personnel that addresses traffic control strategies at highway work zones, and encourage the States to adopt it. At a minimum, the training program should incorporate material from Part VI of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and information concerning procedures and terminology typically used by highway engineers in establishing and evaluating work zone operations. (H-02-03)

To the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Work with the Federal Highway Administration to develop a model training program for law enforcement personnel that addresses traffic control strategies at highway work zones. At a minimum, the training program should incorporate material from Part VI of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and information concerning procedures and terminology typically used by highway engineers in establishing and evaluating work zone operations. (H-02-04)

To the Tennessee Department of Transportation:

Conduct preconstruction conferences with all parties involved in a work zone project. As a result of such conferences, produce a written traffic control plan or project plan agreed to by all parties that defines the lines of authority and how traffic control and enforcement will be performed for all types of work zone configurations to be utilized. (H-02-05)

To the National Sheriffs' Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials:

Work with the Federal Highway Administration to develop a model training program for law enforcement personnel that addresses traffic control strategies at highway work zones. At a minimum, the training program should incorporate material from Part VI of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and information concerning procedures and terminology typically used by highway engineers in establishing and evaluating work zone operations. (H-02-06)