We’re aware of the risk involved daily while performing these duties on the roads or in a formal work zone. We all have stories of near misses, cars blowing by the flagman or the approaching vehicle that does not move over or slow down. My concern is the increased frequency that these events are taking place.
Over my 27 years with KDOT there has always been the occasional truck getting rear-ended or crash attenuator struck from behind, but now it seems to me to be a common occurrence. Every SNICE event, I expect to hear about a KDOT truck being hit, usually multiple, a KHP or other law enforcement or emergency vehicle being struck.
Seldom does a day go by while performing road surveillance that a car or truck does not pull out or turn right in front of me. Or that I experience the cringing feeling and brace to be struck from behind by an approaching vehicle that does not move over or slow down while I’m sitting on the shoulder waiting to pick up road debris. The reports of flagmen almost being hit or the motorists who just blew right pass the workers performing their duties in the work zone has become alarming and is unacceptable.
My wish is that the traveling public would become more aware that the constant need to be on a cellphone, whether it is talking (even hands free) or texting, is putting the safety of themselves and of those working in traffic at a greater risk of injury or possibly death.
We as highway workers would love nothing more than to provide the traveling public with a smooth and uninterrupted trip, but we all know that to provide that there must be maintenance and construction activities involved. Please put the phone down. When you see a KDOT truck, law enforcement or emergency vehicle, please move over or slow down. When approaching a work zone, please pay attention to the warning signs, the flagman and workers.
I feel we all can work together to reverse this alarming trend by simply doing what is responsible and giving our complete focus to the act of driving while behind the wheel. It matters to you; it matters to your family; it matters to the highway workers, law enforcement, emergency personal and their families. We want everyone to return home safely at the end of the day.
Stay safe and wash your hands!