Monday, April 20, 2020

Never become complacent

Rick Carson, seated in center, is surrounded by his family.

My name is Rick Carson and I am the Equipment Operator Specialist for the Syracuse Subarea office. I am coming up on my fifth year as a KDOT employee, having served as Specialist since July 2017.
During my short tenure as a KDOT employee, I have seen quite a few different circumstances that could have turned out very bad. I learned from early on, that the best thing you can do to keep yourself safe is to keep your head on a constant swivel.
One of the most unforgettable experiences happened to me in the summer of 2019.We were patching holes on K-27 in the south part of Syracuse. The stretch of roadway is a four-lane undivided highway. The crew was working on the inside lane of the northbound lane. We had set up our work zone prior to beginning work with all the proper signs, cones, attenuator and a wedge diverting traffic into the right-hand lane. 
At some point that morning, I was standing along the center line, but still in the lane we were working in. There was some debris that had rolled over the center line, and I was going to step over the center line to sweep it back over into the hole. I was facing the north and looked to make sure no traffic was coming. 
I never turned to look south, because, there shouldn’t have been any traffic coming from that way, because we had our wedge set up pushing them right. WRONG! A truck coming from the south had crossed over the double yellow line. It was traveling north in the southbound lane and what was probably over the speed limit.
Luckily, one of my co-workers was looking that way and was able to get my attention, and I was able to step out of the way.
Thinking about it later that day, the one word that came to my mind was COMPLACENT. That day, at that particular time, I had become complacent and overly comfortable with my surroundings.
To my fellow KDOT workers, I would just like to remind you all that no matter what you are doing, always take the extra time to look around and make sure that you are doing it carefully. And, always watch out for your co-workers.
To the traveling public, KDOT does what they do, to try and keep your family safe on the highways. So in your travels, if/when you come up on any workers, anywhere, PLEASE, slow down, move over and obey the signs. Drive like it is your family out there along the side of the road. Because, we ARE somebody’s family.


  1. Rick: I hope all KDOT maintenance workers read your blog (and those across the country too). I've sometimes seen that complacency and it alarms me. Maintenance crews do not have the advantage of concrete barrier to protect them when they do "minor" repairs on Kansas roads.

    Drivers: Please watch out for the workers who are trying to improve your ride!

  2. Rick,
    Thanks for your work. That’s a great point you make! With folks distracted in their vehicles doing many things except paying full attention to driving, one cannot become COMPLACENT. Thanks for sharing. There is no reason for anyone not to slow down, move over and obey signs in the work zones.

  3. That's so scary, I'm glad you're ok. It's a good reminder that everyone needs to pay attention in work zones. Thank you for your efforts.

  4. Drivers also become complacent, it's a good reminder for all.

  5. This is a great story, thanks for sharing. It's a good reminder to stay attentive and not to be complacent for both workers AND drivers!