Tuesday, April 21, 2020

This is why it’s important to move over


By Caleb Provo
I was only eight months into my job at the Kansas Turnpike when my vehicle was struck on July 9, 2019. In less than one year, I already have a moment I’ll look back on and be grateful it didn’t end up a different way.
Last summer, I was with our crew doing our annual paint striping at mile marker 8.8, which is just north of the Oklahoma border. I was sitting in a dump truck with an attenuator attached to it. This was blocking the passing lane of the roadway. And a different vehicle was behind me informing traffic of the lane blockage.
Things were proceeding as normal, when I saw it out of my side mirror. In a quick instant, I see a semi that hadn’t moved over coming right at my tail end! There was no way the driver could stop in time, and he tried to—unsuccessfully—squeeze between me and the barrier wall to avoid a collision.
Ultimately, the semi driver ended up crashing into the back end of my attenuator, and I radioed to our teams that I had been hit. Then things got even crazier. A piece of metal from the attenuator broke off and pierced my fuel tank, which in and of itself is a dangerous situation.
However, to make matters worse, the impact also caused the semi to catch fire. I’m glad I was there in that moment and uninjured because I helped the driver, and his wife who was with him, out of the on-fire semi. They wanted to try and save their belongings, and I told them, “Stuff is replaceable, you aren’t.”
It’s good they got out when they did. I tried using an extinguisher on the semi, but within a matter of minutes, it was completely engulfed in flames. In less than 20 minutes, the entire thing was destroyed. You could barely recognize it.
Still to this day, I don’t know exactly why they didn’t move over, but I’m so glad this incident didn’t end up worse than what it was. Please, take a lesson from this — pay attention, read signage and move over for roadway workers. Our lives truly do depend on it.
 
Caleb Provo is a Structures Worker for the Kansas Turnpike Authority in Wichita

10 comments:

  1. Having worked in close proximity of traffic moving at the high rates of speed, that are posted on the highways today, you cannot for one second lose your focus on your surroundings in your work area. I may sound old fashion, but with the many distractions that drivers have today in their vehicles, it behooves those trying to accomplish the task of making the highways safe for the traveling public is the one thing that will save your life, because the driver approaching you is certainly not focused on their job.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm amazed at the number of drivers who do not move over for a work zone. There is always plenty of notice and the signs are hard to ignore. Attenuator trucks are a necessity and it's likely it saved lives of the work crew in this instance. Thankfully, Caleb survived this crash.

    Other states are using driverless attenuators that follow work vehicles; seems like a good use of automated vehicle technology in slow-moving maintenance operations like this one.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Reading this story made my heart race. Please be careful driving, especially in work zones.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow you are a hero in so many ways. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thankfully Caleb survived this. I have saw terrible - illegal traffic control in Kansas. Usually because of the time it takes to set up correctly and they figure they're not going to be there that long. They need to 100% always be diligent in setting up correct traffic control hello. Some of the supervisors do not even know how to do it correctly. There is a Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) that tells how to do this and it needs to be followed.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have first-hand knowledge of this because a co-worker was killed in the 1980s because of improper traffic control. I have also saw it caused many accidents over the years.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You and your department are highly appreciated for what you do and risk everyday. People don't say it enough, but what you guys do is highly dangerous and highly important. Thank you and all roadway/construction workers for your hard work.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Nothing but high praise for you workers at KDOT. I hope God will continue to protect you as you work! Kudos for this young man. Not only did he display a cool head and exemplpalary courage but he saved two lives as well. The stuff heros are made of!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Very glad you are ok and was able to help the other driver and his wife escape safely. Thank you for your work.

    ReplyDelete