Work zone safety is important all year long

Thanks to all people who wrote stories for the National Work Zone Awareness Week safety blog series highlighting why work zone safety is so important. The official week is over, but safety in work zones is a priority all year long.

For a variety of transportation-related articles, please check our other KDOT blog site that posts stories and photos several times each week – it's at http://kansastransportation.blogspot.com/



Things that work


By Brad Halseth
      Let me start by saying that I cannot count the number of near misses that I have experienced in work zones as a KDOT employee from things such as motorists running past flagmen, driving through the cones or on the wrong side of cones, or just completely ignoring the traffic control. I am not only fortunate but thankful that I have never been part of an accident in a work zone that cost someone their life. A large part of that I am sure is due to the fact that we are deliberate with the way we set up our traffic control.
      In work zones all across the country, the color orange is associated with traffic control and work zone awareness in general. The color orange is a color that seemingly gets motorists’ attention better than any other. With that being said, people also want to get through work zones as quickly or as painless as possible also, which tends make them less observant from time to time.
      I know that we as an agency look for ways to improve or enhance the safety in our work zones. I have had an opportunity at KDOT to work in many variations of work zones over the years as updates and procedure changes have occurred. Some of these changes were an improvement and worked well, and with others the impact on the traveling public was very minimal.
      Since the introduction of the LED light bars to our trucks we have noticed that these tend to get the attention of motorists. Some of our vehicles are also equipped with white LED lights which have been even more beneficial.
      For many years we used a construction grade sheeting for our signage in work zones. We now use a more high performance sheeting which also makes our signs stand out to the traveling public. We also add flags that add a moving visual element to our work zones as they move in the Kansas wind.
      These are just a few items that helped aid our work efforts over the years, I am sure that there will be other changes in the future. We will continue to incorporate changes as they are made as I am sure they are for the safety of our employees and the motorists of Kansas.
Brad Halseth is the Area Superintendent at the Great Bend KDOT office.

Traffic zone safety from the other side of the cones


By Ryan Blosser
      With over 20 years in the construction business, I’ve seen my fair share of work zones and more accidents than I can remember. 
      One instance I remember like it was yesterday was when we were repairing the Kansas Turnpike. We had the road closed to one lane and were working behind the cones in the closed lane. I vividly remember looking back at the oncoming traffic and seeing a car slowing to a stop in the open lane. What happened next I will never forget. 
      Coming around a corner in the open lane was a tanker truck loaded with crude oil. The truck driver couldn’t stop in time and had three options.  He could hit the car and most likely kill the stopping driver, swerve into the closed lane and kill all of us working on the highway or head for the ditch and possibly hit a bridge pier and kill himself. Lucky for us he took the ditch option. 
      As the truck went by on nine of his 18 wheels, it narrowly missed the bridge and somehow came to a rest on all its tires.  As he pulled out of the ditch and into the closed area, I ran down to make sure he was alright and thanked him for not taking the closed lane option. Looking back at that near miss I was able to see how something as simple as not slowing down in a traffic zone turned in a nightmare. We were lucky no one was hurt.
      Working closely with the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Kansas Turnpike Authority you learn quickly that a priority is the traveling public and the workers’ safety.  As a Project Manager I feel personally responsible for both the safety of my crews and employees along with every person who travels through that work zone. So I ask, for your safety and ours, if you’re driving through a work zone please put down your phone, look out ahead, pay attention, follow the signs and KEEP MOVING FORWARD! 
      Ryan Blosser is the General Manager/Contractor Division of Hamm Inc. in Perry