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Officials urge drivers to slow down as road construction ramps up

Brandon Smith
IPB News
Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Mike Smith said Indiana saw more than 1,500 work zone crashes last year.

State officials want Hoosiers to be extra cautious on the roadways as road construction season gets underway.

Indiana has about 1,300 road construction projects this year. The state used to average about 800. But Indiana also saw more than 1,500 work zone crashes last year.

Richard Hedgecock represents Indiana road construction companies. And he said drivers slowing down makes the biggest difference. According to national data, Hedgecock said speeding was the leading factor in fatal accidents.

“Equal to the impact of drug use, alcohol use, medication misuse and distracted driving combined,” Hedgecock said.

To help improve safety, the state is deploying more “queue trucks” – vehicles that sit just off the road ahead of work zones, where traffic has started to back up. The trucks have colorful signs and flashing lights, warning drivers to slow down.

READ MORE: Lawmakers try again on construction zone speed cameras bill

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Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Mike Smith said the trucks are designed to prevent “hard-braking.”

“We know that every incident of hard-braking increases the likelihood of a severe accident,” Smith said.

Smith says last year, queue trucks helped reduce hard-braking in the work zones they were deployed in by 80 percent.

Contact reporter Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.