HARTFORD, S.D. (KELO) — Drivers say this week’s fiery crash on Interstate 90 underscores the importance for everyone to slow-down and be extra-alert when going through construction zones. As the highway patrol investigates the crash that killed three people, the DOT is offering important safety reminders to avoid future tragedies. The crash has also affected people who live and work along the interstate.
Tiffany Tomaszewski was working behind the counter at the Coffee Cup Fuel Stop when the deadly I-90 crash happened. Detoured drivers coming into the store were rattled by what just happened.
“There were some people that saw it and were pretty shaken up and weren’t sure what was going on either. They’re like, we just drove by, there was a lot of smoke,” Tomaszewski said.
Days later, the crash still haunts Tomaszewski, who avoids interstate construction whenever possible.
“It seems like there’s been more accidents on this stretch of interstate during construction than there really needs to be,” Tomaszewski said
People who do travel the interstate every day say too many drivers aren’t slowing down in construction zones.
“I really believe that people just overdrive. I believe they don’t pay attention to what the speed limit should be and it just causes havoc for everyone else,” Patty McKenna of Hartford said.
It’s also important to leave plenty of space for the car in front of you and don’t let your phone be a distraction.
“If you’re in a work zone, you really need to be focused on what’s happening in front of you, be aware of your surroundings,” South Dakota DOT Director of Operations Craig Smith said.
Construction zones don’t offer drivers much wiggle-room to take evasive action to try to avoid a crash.
“It’s going to be tight in there if we’ve got traffic squeezed down into a couple of lanes. A lot of times, there can be congestion and that’s when speed is so important, you may not be able to veer-off onto a shoulder, or something like that,” Smith said.
Even though it’s late-summer, road construction season can last well into November. So drivers need to remain on high-alert, because the orange cones, and the potential dangers, aren’t going away anytime soon.
Smith says another option is to take an alternate route, if possible, to avoid construction altogether.