By Derrick Shannon
I started working for KDOT in August of 2002 on the Garnett Area Crew and am now the
Superintendent in Iola.
The first time I was assigned to flag was on K-68. The crew was putting a hand rail back on a bridge that a car had taken off. Back then, we used three signs and no cones. It took about 10 minutes to put up the traffic control. I was handed the paddle and radio and told to stop traffic. I got right to work. The morning went fine with cars and trucks stopping as they should. Just after I went back to my flagging position after my second break of the day, a big yellow dump truck flew past me. The driver did not even touch the brake till he was all the way past me.
Another close call was just a few years ago when I was the Equipment Operator Specialist on the Iola Subarea crew. We were patching concrete on U.S. 169. The crew members had the traffic control in place and were using the new automated flaggers. I was running the controls and had just closed the northbound flagger to stop traffic. A car was coming into the work zone and was about at the sign that says do not pass. The driver drove right around the automated flagger, came right up to where I was running the remote and told me the flagger was broke because the arm just fell down right in front of them.
I have only been involved in one accident in a work zone in my 14-year career with KDOT and lucky for me and the crew, no one was hurt. It happened on U.S. 54 when I was an Equipment Operator. A semi-truck slammed into the back of a pickup truck that was stopped at the flagger. Lucky for everyone involved the semi turned into the ditch. The pickup truck that was hit only went about 50 feet forward and the flagger was able to get out of the way.
I really want to thank all of the Kansas Department of Transportation people that worked so hard at coming up with the set-up for traffic control that we use today. I believe the workers are better protected now from distracted drivers that they come across on the roads.
I am reminded of these times when I hear crews complain about having to spend so much time setting out 30 lead-in cones, 10 signs, six cone tapers at both ends, a crash attenuator, a buffer zone and a pilot car. I just let them know how much safer they are nowadays than what we were in previous years.