Friday, April 16, 2010

Road Construction Safety - 1

Road Construction Safety

The article below by Misty Maynard of the The Ledger Independent tells of a Safety campaign in Kentucky that makes the average motorists to pay close attention to the warning signs where new roadway work or existing roadway maintenance and repair work is on going.

The week of April 19-23 is
"Roadway Safety Emphasis Week" all over the country.

I commend Ms Maynard on this very informative article. As a Safety Professional, as well as a normal driver that drives the roads of southwest Alabama where quite a number of construction and repaving work is on going, I make it a special emphasis to slow down to below the posted "Safe Speed Limit" in these areas. I urge all readers to adhere to these speed limits no matter how irritated the drivers following you get. I really like the signs spelled out like they are from a child saying, "My Daddy works here, Please Slow Down."

Come on drivers, slow it down in these work areas. Many workers are only protected by safety cones, not heavy concrete barricades.
Those will not keep a vehicle from striking a roadway worker.

Safety campaign looks to curb construction accidents

buy this photo Terry Prather/Staff Workers from the Kentucky Department of Highways had a safety zone set up along Kentucky 11, south of Maysville Monday so that falling rocks and debris could be removed from a ditch line along the roadway. Motorists are urged to use caution while traveling through work zones.

As Michael Hickerson stood in the curve of Kentucky 324 near Wedonia directing traffic through a construction zone recently, he became concerned when an approaching driver did not seem to notice the stop sign on display.

There was oncoming traffic in the open lane and Hickerson feared an accident if he couldn't catch the driver's attention. He pushed the sign out farther and motioned for the driver to stop.

"She finally realized what I was trying to do," Hickerson said. "It could've been very, very bad."

Hickerson, a highway equipment operator with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's Mason County maintenance crews. said he sees incidences like these far too often. Driver inattention is a major factor in accidents in work zones and puts Hickerson and all other employees of the KYTC at risk.

In 2009, nine people died and 140 were injured in highway construction and maintenance work zones in Kentucky.

Nationally, in 2008 there were 720 work zone fatalities nationwide and more than 40,000 people injured. In the U.S., there is on work zone fatality every 10 hours and one work zone injury every 13 minutes. Eighty-five percent of the fatalities are motorists.

Those statistics are the reason why KYTC designates one week every April to a work zone safety campaign. KYTC is hosting events across the state this week to highlight the safety message.

"Springtime is construction time," said KYTC District 9 spokesman Allen Blair, making April a perfect time for the safety campaign.

Blair said accidents in work zones are easily prevented, if drivers pay attention and proceed cautiously through the zones.

"Minimize your distractions, slow down, expect the unexpected," Blair said.

Hickerson said cell phones in particular are a major distraction. However, crews are at risk by people eating while driving, reading the newspaper, putting on makeup, or any other activity that diverts their attention from the roadway.

District 9, which covers 10 counties including Mason County, has been fortunate, Blair said, with few accidents occurring.

"We've had a lot of close calls," Blair said.

Maintenance crews abide by strict federal guidelines for establishing a work zone and notifying approaching drivers of the work ahead.

Beginning Monday on Kentucky 11, a crew of seven plus a contractor worked to clean a ditch and free loose debris in Maysville. Though the crew only had to close the shoulder, cones were set up at intervals of 20 feet beginning 190 feet before the actual work site to alert drivers of the maintenance.

Blair said projects that close a lane have guidelines for how much advance warning and space is needed to allow drivers to merge into another lane.

In addition to the cones, signs announcing the work site are displayed, there are flashing lights on vehicles and employees wear bright vests, t-shirts, jackets and hats for easy visibility.

The guidelines used for work zones are designed for maximum efficiency and safety, Blair said.

District 9 has several upcoming projects in the area. Time lines for the projects depend on weather.

Included in the projects are:

-- Bridge repairs on Kentucky 111 and Kentucky 3302 in Fleming County, and Kentucky 57 in Lewis County.

-- Safety improvements along 12 miles of U.S. 62 in Mason County including drainage and guardrail repairs.

-- Resurfacing of about 2.7 miles of Kentucky 111 near Grange City in Fleming County and more than 2 miles of Kentucky 8 and Kentucky 2515 in Mason County.

Contact Misty Maynard at misty.maynard@lee.net or call 606-564-9091, ext. 272.

For more area news, visit www.maysville-online.com.




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