This being summer, it's officially road construction season. It's also time for the perennial reminder that extra caution must be exercised in work zones.
The death of a road construction worker from Merrillville early Saturday on Chicago's Southwest Side must serve as a reminder to drive carefully in construction zones.
Jose Tafoya, 58, was struck and killed by a drunken driver at about 4:30 a.m. in the 4900 block of Chicago's South Western Avenue, authorities said.
His daughter, Ana Tafoya, 21, said she had been urging her father to retire.
"As he walked out the door, he told me, 'This is my last year,' she said."
It is a heartbreaker, made worse in that the driver is alleged to have violated basic work zone safety precautions that would have saved Tafoya's life.
The Indiana Department of Transportation website sums up advice succinctly: "Please use caution and common sense when driving through highway work zones."
Considering that this remains a continuing problem — in 2013, 13 people were killed and more than 300 injured in INDOT work zones — "common sense" isn't common enough, so INDOT spells it out:
- Stay alert and minimize distractions. Don't adjust controls while you're in a work zone.
- Expect the unexpected. Speed limits may be reduced, lane patterns may change, and workers may be nearby. You might even see other drivers misbehaving.
- Slow down.
- Don't tailgate.
- Keep a safe distance between your vehicle, highway workers, their equipment and barriers.
- Keep up with traffic.
- Pay attention to signs.
- Obey flaggers where present.
- Allow time for delays.
- Be patient, and stay calm.
In addition, there are places where lane changes are prohibited. And watch for construction workers, even late at night.
Drivers should always be alert, of course, but heightened awareness is required in work zones.
We have seen too many tragic accidents in work zones already. Don't risk creating another.