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Accident Report Detail

Collision in a Work Zone on Interstate Highway 40

Executive Summary

About 8 a.m. on July 26, 2000, a work zone project began near milepost 85.6 on eastbound Interstate Highway 40 (I-40) in Jackson, Tennessee. This was the third day of an operation that consisted of milling rumble strips into the shoulder pavement. The three construction vehicles that were involved were positioned along the outside shoulder of the interstate. Two Tennessee Highway Patrol vehicles, with their emergency lights flashing, were also present to assist with enforcement and traffic control. The THP vehicles were stopped 450 feet and 950 feet, respectively, behind the construction vehicles along the right lane.

About 8:52 a.m., 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 the trailing Tennessee Highway Patrol vehicle. 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 Tennessee Highway Patrol vehicle was killed, and the Chevrolet driver was seriously injured.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the driver.s incapacitation, owing to the failure of the medical certification process to detect and remove a medically unfit driver from service. Contributing to this accident were the lack of planning and coordination between the Tennessee Department of Transportation, its contractors, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol regarding work zone projects; the lack of traffic control training, specific to highway work zone operations, provided to Tennessee Highway Patrol officers; and the failure of the Tennessee Department

Accident Location: Jackson , TN    
Accident Date: 7/26/2000
Accident ID: HWY00IH046

Date Adopted: 5/14/2002
NTSB Number: HAR-02-01
NTIS Number: PB2002-916201