Road worker, driver safety in focus after fatal accident

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Two road construction workers were killed along I-55 in Crittenden County Tuesday night after a pickup crossed into the construction zone.

According to Arkansas State Police, George Walker was southbound on I-55 when he crossed into a construction workzone and hit two workers and an asphalt truck.

Workers James Raines and Marshall Turner were killed in the accident, and Walker and a passenger were taken to the Med in Memphis for their injuries. 

Due to this fatal accident, the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department is reminding drivers to be mindful of workers in construction zones. 

In Craighead County alone, workers are adding a cable barrier to miles of Highway 63, and bridge construction continues on the Highway 226 expansion. 

Brad Smithee with the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department is the District Construction Engineer for District 10 in Paragould. He said the safety of construction personnel along with the public is discussed before projects even start.

"It begins at the design process during our large construction projects," said Smithee.

While working on the roads, construction workers follow guidelines to stay as safe as possible.

"We follow the manual on uniform traffic control devices, which is federal guideline," said Smithee.

However, its drivers that seem to overlook all the signs.

"Be observant whether driving through a construction zone or just down the road. We have to monitor what we are doing," said Smithee.

It starts with full attention on the road, leaving devices left alone while driving.

"Cell phones, electronic devices of all sorts, the radio and the window down just enjoying a spring day," said Smithee.

That way, if any changes are made up ahead, the driver is aware.

"There can be lane changes, there can be lane closes, flag people ahead. Anything can be going on," said Smithee

Construction on highway 63 in Jonesboro has construction workers working at night which allows less traffic and fewer travelers. However, working at night is still a dangerous task.

"There are trip hazards, there are fall hazards, the lighting that they work with illuminates them well and that's really a good way for the public to see them but it's still working at night," said Smithee.

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