An employee from Scotty’s Contracting Traffic Control is recovering after being struck by a passing motorist’s vehicle on Interstate 65. The incident happened while working at the scene of a wreck late last week.
Tonya Pannell, 52 of Morgantown, was directing southbound motorists around a stalled semi early Thursday in the right lane of I65 between Elizabethtown and Glendale. The tractor-trailer had been stopped in traffic because of a previous incident. She noticed an approaching vehicle also in the right lane which was not slowing down or moving over and attempted to climb a temporary barrier wall to seek refuge. The vehicle swerved to avoid the semi and struck the wall, causing Pannell to fall off the barrier onto the hood and then back over the wall. She was transported by Ambulance to Hardin Memorial Hospital and treated for a broken foot and several scrapes and bruises.
Chris Jessie, KYTC District 4 Public Information Officer and Incident Management Coordinator told a local news outlet, “Construction folks spend every workday around near misses. Countless stories of what ‘almost happened’ never make headlines. Our friends and families – the general public’s friends and families – are just inches from tragedy every day.”
Lack of motorists’ attention on roads is observed on a consistent basis, especially through construction zones. Based on nationwide statistics, nearly 80% of all crashes and 65% of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within 3 seconds prior to an event. While Tonya Pannell is fortunate that her injuries were not more severe, other construction workers and first responders are often critically or fatally wounded when similar incidents occur.
When questioned after an incident, those involved often say things like, “I did not notice the sign.” The most effective action motorists can take to prevent a tragedy is to pay closer attention. This action can simply be to focus on driving rather than other activities while behind the wheel. Read and obey traffic signs instead of ignoring them. Lives depend on it.