Friday, April 7, 2017

The call a highway supervisor fears

My name is Troy Whitworth and I have spent the past 29 years working for KDOT in some capacity; whether it was as a front line worker, Supervisor or Manager. I spent the majority of my early career based in the Kansas City area working on multi-lane highways with high traffic counts.
Troy Whitworth
As a Supervisor and Manager, the worst news you can receive is the call saying one of your people has been hurt while working on the road. I received one of those calls one night - an employee of mine had been struck by a vehicle while he was providing traffic control for an accident scene.
Fearing the worst; I asked if he was ok.  I was told he was in the emergency room being checked out by a doctor and was unaware of the extent of his injuries.  I made my way to the hospital wondering what had happened and hoping that he would be alright. When I got to his room in the ER; I found him in surprisingly good spirits but a bit sore from where the car hit him and from where he hit the ground.
I asked him what had happened. He told me he had closed down a ramp along the interstate for the traffic accident he got called out for. He said he saw headlights moving toward the ramp. The lights just kept coming at him and at the reflectorized cones delineating the closure. Before he knew it the car was almost on top of him; he jumped out of the way. The car struck his legs and spun him around knocking him to the edge of the roadway and out of the path of the vehicle.  The car continued up the ramp almost striking a police officer as it sped by.
Seeing what had just happened; the police leapt into action. After a frantic car chase, the police were able to get the vehicle stopped before someone else was hurt. We later found out the driver had been drinking and was impaired enough he didn’t know he had hit someone. 
In this instance we were very fortunate that the injuries to my employee weren’t life threatening. It could have been much more tragic and has been in other work zone crashes.  
Our field maintenance and construction workers have a difficult and sometimes dangerous job to do. They do amazing work making the roads safer for the traveling public. Remember to be considerate as you drive the roadway. When you see workers on the roadway, give them room to do their job.

Troy Whitworth is the Assistant to the Director of Operations at KDOT.


  1. Thanks Troy for sharing your experiences. It's unfortunate that despite all of the reminders and warning signs there are still severe crashes in work zones. We appreciate everything that highway workers do to not only design, construct and improve roads; but also perform the duty in difficult circumstances.

  2. What a scary moment, to not know whether your co-worker is ok or not. And these people are not just your co-workers, they are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends of many. Remember to watch out for them.

  3. Sounds like this guy must have been driving on auto pilot. When you drive a route you normally drive, sometimes you can do it without remembering the trip. Now add impairment due to drinking and throw in a work zone, thank goodness the outcome was not any worse! I’m sure the driver was very remorseful but you don’t get to take it back after the fact. This is why it is so important to maintain awareness in work zones. Distractions and impairments kill construction works, travelers, and injure countless more across the county in work zones. Thanks for sharing your story Troy.