Just 20 minutes into their 24 hour shift, New Waverly Firefighters and Walker County EMS were summoned to an accident in the southbound lanes of I-45 between Huntsville and New Waverly. Initial reports indicate that the driver of a passenger car lost control on the rain slick road and struck an 18 wheeler and another car before crashing nearly head on into the concrete center rail, breaking it loose and trapping the victim in her mangled car.
Nearly a dozen Firefighters and EMS personnel worked quickly, first popping the doors off with heavy rescue tools so that a Walker County Paramedic could reach the victim, then cutting the roof off the car to extricate her into the waiting ambulance. The victim was transported with non-life threatening injuries. The truck driver and the driver of the other car were checked out by EMS, but did not require hospitalization.
DPS Troopers and WCSO responded as well and working with Firefighters and Tow Operators, were able to get traffic flowing on the shoulder of the road, but not before significant traffic backup in the southbound lanes. A few minutes later, another southbound driver approaching the traffic backup was unable to stop and struck another vehicle, creating a secondary accident approximately 2 miles up from the original accident scene. On average, secondary accidents occur approximately 20% of the time, and are especially prevalent during inclement weather and at night.
Drivers are reminded that state law prohibits the use of any mobile devices while driving and drivers should always match their speed to the current conditions. Although the posted speed limit is 65 in the I-45 construction zone, adverse conditions may dictate lower speeds to maintain safe following distances and avoid accidents.
The number of accidents in the construction zone often spikes when the roads are wet and during peak construction times. Traffic fines can double in construction zones when workers are present and DPS Troopers are ramping up enforcement of the state’s “Move Over, Slow Down” law all through the month of February. Drivers must move over if possible when approaching emergency or highway work vehicles with their lights activated, and if it is not possible to move over, then drivers must slow down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit. Struck by accidents are the #1 cause of death for Law Enforcement Officers across the country. The “Move Over, Slow Down” law also covers tow truck operators, as they are one of the emergency responders at highest risk of being struck. National statistics show that 1 tow operator is struck and killed every 6 days on the nation’s roads and highways.