One member of a highway paving crew died when a pickup truck entered a closed lane of I-40 through Morganton, North Carolina (NC), and struck him. Three other construction workers sustained serious injuries in the wreck near the exit for Highway 18/Enola Road that occurred shortly after 4 am on September 19, 2014.
State police do not know how or why the pickup wound up inside the construction barriers. They ruled out impairment by alcohol or drugs, and the at-fault driver was not speeding prior to causing the collision. Evidence will be presented to prosecutors, however, so charges related to negligent and reckless driving or causing injuries and death while operating a motor vehicle may be forthcoming.
Factors that may have contributed to the fatal work zone accident include driver fatigue, confusion and distraction. Falling asleep at the wheel, traveling through an unfamiliar area when visibility is low and letting one's eyes and mind wander can all cause a driver to move into the wrong lane and strike other vehicles or people on foot. None of those explanations, though, is an excuse for causing injuries and taking lives.
Drivers must focus on keeping themselves and others safe and alive at all times. Having helped victims of traffic accidents in North Carolina for more than 25 years, I know that even momentary lapses in meeting that responsibility can cause irreversible tragedy. My condolences go out to the friends and family of the man who lost his life on I-40, along with my wishes for full and rapid recoveries for those injured.