By Delane Newkirk
Having worked at KDOT for almost 34 years, I can say I have seen a lot traffic control issues.
From near misses, to did you not see the road work signs, to what in the world are they doing. I have seen people drive through freshly shot oil, drive completely around the work zone on the grass shoulder, stop and turn around at the work zone and go back the other direction. I could go on and on.
When I first started flagging, it seemed like the people you had to watch out for was some of the elderly. They would sometimes drive a car length or more past you and then stop. When you walked up to the vehicle to speak to them, they were just sitting there still looking over the steering wheel straight ahead. Did you see me standing back there with the stop and slow sign? Most would say yes, but you had to wonder why they drove clear past you before they stopped.
Later when flagging, it seemed like there were always those people you would get stopped in the work zone who didn’t have enough time to be stopped. They were running late, or had an appointment they had to be on time for, or just simply, I don’t have time to be waiting here. It will just be a few minutes, you would say, and they would act like you had just ruined their day.
Lastly, in more recent times I have to say that the most distracted drivers are the ones that are using their cell phones as they come into our work zones. When you get them stopped, some are still on the phone. Gee, is our work zone disturbing your phone call? May I have your attention for a minute?
We can put up all the road work signs, cones and arrow boards according to our work zone policy and have it all measured out to the nearest foot. But all of that sometimes does not get the attention of a distracted motorist. It all comes down to that person who is behind the steering wheel. They have to concentrate on their driving and be aware as they come into our work zones.
At the end of the day, I want to see all of my people back to the shop safely. The traveling motorists need to help us make sure that happens.
Delane Newkirk is the KDOT Subarea Supervisor at Great Bend