About 8:52 a.m. on July 26, 2000, an eastbound 1999 International truck tractor pulling a loadedsemitrailer, and traveling at a driver-estimated speed of 65 mph in a 55-mph work zone, collided with a Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) vehicle trailing construction vehicles. Witnesses reported that the patrol car exploded and caught fire at impact. The patrol car was pushed approximately 192 feet before it came to rest in the median. The tractor-semitrailer continued through a 61-foot depressed earthen median and into the westbound lanes, where it collided with a 1997 Chevrolet Blazer. The tractor- emitrailer then continued across the travel lanes and came to rest in a wooded area on the north side of I-40. The State trooper in the THP vehicle was killed, and the Chevrolet driver was seriously injured.
The following major safety issues were identified in this accident:
- Lack of communication between the Tennessee Department of Transportation, its contractors, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
- Inadequate planning and coordinating of traffic control responsibilities between highway construction personnel and law enforcement officers before engaging in work zone activities.
- Need to train officers in safe traffic control procedures within highway work zones.
As a result of this accident investigation, the Safety Board makes recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the National Sheriff’s Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.