Monday, April 3, 2017

My look on traffic control

By Derrick Shannon
I started working for KDOT in August of 2002 on the Garnett Area Crew and am now the 
Derrick Shannon
Area 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.


  1. I agree with you Derrick, the time spent setting up Temporary Traffic Control is important. The TTC set-ups are not only intended to provide clear and accurate information to the driver, but to also provide some level of protection for the worker.

    Like you, I have had several close calls while working on/around our highways. As a highway worker, you must always be aware of your working environment and be prepared for the unexpected.

    When it comes to the unexpected, distracted driving is major concern for all highway workers. In an effort to counteract distracted driving, KDOT is constantly reviewing available Temporary Traffic Control devices and their uses. As highway maintenance and construction progresses into the future, we hope to be able to provide workers with more tools to deploy in an effort to promote safer temporary work zones.

    When driving: ditch the distractions, buckle-up, and remember “Work Zone Safety is in Your Hands.”

    Eric Nichol, P.E.
    Kansas State Signing Engineer
    Kansas Department of Transportation

  2. Gosh, all those close calls, so scary. Wish drivers would pay more attention. Very glad you are alright.

  3. I flagged for a summer after graduating high school in 1998 near Eskridge/Allen/Alta Vista/Alma areas. We had a fairly minimalist setup then with a sign for Road Work Ahead and a Flagger. Luckily those were highways that saw very little traffic and regular commuters who took notice of road signs. Furthermore, cellphones were a luxury that most didn't have (and cell reception, haha).

    I couldn't imagine what its like to work in high traffic zones with so many distracted drivers on the roads today. Luckily for me, I saw a summer of my life go by without incident and only recall some interesting conversations I had with patient motorists as we waited for a pilot car to make its rounds. Stay safe KDOT.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story!

  4. Having started at K.D.O.T. in 1981, have seen traffic control grow to the very well though out system of today. Between PSA'S informing people of work zones, consistent setting of work zones across the state help all crews be safe. Using channeling cones, rumble strips, all with high reflective coverings and or coatings make this whole process safer. Keep being consistent, set similar zones for each project across the sub-areas, areas, districts. As soon as one sub-areas starts getting lazy setting out safety devices soon will have all highway workers in jeopardy. Keep up the good work. Stay safe. Everyone goes home!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing John and for your service to KDOT and the state.

  5. Thank you for the work you do to keep the public and your co-workers safe. I agree many improvements have been made in setting up temporary traffic control. The clearer what the expectations of the drivers are the safer everyone is. Keep up the good work and stay safe.

  6. Very true Derrick and thank you for sharing. Traffic control and flagging has sure come a long way! It's super important to follow the specs to make sure everyone gets home safely. Thanks again Derrick and stay safe!

  7. Very well done. Absolutely brilliant information. I'm in love with this blog. they always provide such a great information. Traffic Management Plans