Monday, September 30, 2019

Lives are on the line in work zones

Kerry Bramhall, third from left, and his family.
My name is Kerry Bramhall and I am the District One, Area One Office Coordinator at the Horton KDOT office in northeast Kansas. I have worked at KDOT for 19 years, three of which I was a traveling Survey Technician on a statewide survey crew. I have had several close calls during my time at KDOT.
The first close call I remember quite well. We were surveying some section corners north of Parsons. We had our signs out, and two flaggers flagging traffic in a long, flat and well-visible area. I was in the middle of the road holding a range pole on a section corner while my co-worker was getting readings from it. I saw a semi coming toward me with a line of traffic behind him.
As he approached, the semi behind him proceeded to pass in the work zone, leaving me squeezed between the two trucks. The passing semi’s mirror hit my hand taking the range pole with it. I watched as the range pole went flying ahead, thinking that could have been me.
The worst of my fears came in September of 2007. I was doing paperwork in our office in Seneca when my Construction Engineer, Kevin Palic, came out and said, “Get in the car we are going to Lawrence,” in a panicked voice. As I got in the car, Kevin told me that one of my co-workers who had been doing a project in Lawrence had been hit by a reckless driver. We drove as fast as we could to get there.
As we arrived, we found out that he did not make it. I volunteered to drive my other co-worker home who was with him at the time of the accident. The whole trip home we talked about what a great guy and friend our co-worker was. All that I could think about was if the traveling public only knew how much that hurt to lose a buddy, they might be more aware in work zones.
One of my other duties here at KDOT is plowing snow in the winter months. I have had several close calls with the snowplow truck. This last year, I was plowing snow at night in what I would call a blizzard. Visibility was next to nothing. As I was plowing, a car proceeded to pass me as I’m sure they thought I was not going fast enough, and they were in a hurry.
When the car got past me, I could barely see the taillights as they spun around in front of my snowplow blade and ended up in the ditch. All I could think was I could have hit them, or they could have hit me.
If you are reading this, please slow down and pay attention to your surroundings in a work zone or behind a snowplow, because at the end of the day we would like to go home to our families just like you do.


  1. Very scary situations, so glad you are ok. People need to slow down, saving a minute isn't worth the risk. Thank you for your efforts to improve the highways for us all year round.

  2. I am very glad for you and your family that you survived the two instances where reckless drivers were not paying attention to road conditions. It is also very sad that another reckless driver caused the death of a Lawrence coworker.

    Many thanks for the work you do surveying and winter maintenance on our Kansas Highways. My guess is that, unfortunately you could have shared other examples where reckless drivers caused concern where you were working. My hope is that every person who reads this blog will slow down and watch for workers where surveying, construction and/or any maintenance is being done. It should also be shared with their families and friends.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. What a scary and heartbreaking experience. I only wish people would remember that their actions have consequences before they do reckless things. If someone had thought ahead and imagined what could happen if the drove recklessly, perhaps this story would never need to be written. Slow down, pay attention. It really isn't that hard.

    I'm so sorry for the loss of your coworker. Thank you to every KDOT employee who put their lives on the line to keep us safe.

  4. Tragic story. I wish that drivers would recognize the danger that roadside workers -- including road crews, tow truck operators and law enforcement officers -- are in, just to do their jobs. Drivers need to slow down, move over and NEVER be using their cell phones while driving.