Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My first reader question, yay!

Kate said...

I've got one!!!! *waves hand*

Okay, it might seem like a stoopid question, but what makes the determination whether a pilot car is used or not? I was in a line-up this morning (bridge repair) and one of the sign folks had a pilot car next to her, but it wasn't being used - at least not then. Are they only used if it's miles of repair work?


In Colorado, whether or not a pilot car is used is determined by the state engineers who draw up the plans and specifications for the job. In general, we only use a pilot car on 24 hour concrete jobs, although I'm sure there are exceptions to this rule. I don't have my Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) handy to look up the federal regulations on it, I'm not sure its covered there anyway. (I haven't been brave or bored enough to sit down and read it cover to cover, as I'm not required to know everything in it... its a hand-me-down from one of my supervisors.)

You'd have to ask an engineer for the specifics on when and where a pilot car is used, but in general you're pretty close. I've never seen one used on an asphalt job, no matter how long a stretch they shut off at once.

Another method that I haven't seen used often (we've used it unofficially from time to time when the radios went down) is the token system. In this system you stop the last car you're going to let through, and give them a token of some kind, to give to the flagger at the other end, to let them know that this is the last car, and they're clear to send traffic the other way. For anyone working road construction and contemplating this method, I suggest using something that won't hurt if they throw it at you going by.

The owner of our company is currently thinking of using a "caboose" car, as well. We've been having some problems with getting gaps in the traffic lines, and the workers think that the gap is the end of the line, and get out in the live lane, which causes a danger. The caboose would solve this problem, but we're not sure yet if the state and the contractor are going to go for it. It would be a major step forward in the safety department, if we could get it implemented. As well as eliminating problems with getting out of range of the end before the pilot car is told the last two vehicles in line.

We'll see how that one turns out, though.

I hope I was able to answer your question, Kate, and I'll dig out my MUTCD and see if there is anything mentioned... you got me curious too!


Kate said...

Thanks for answering my question! I kind of like that idea of the last person giving an item to the flag person to let them know that it's the end of the line. But, what to give? I mean, let's say that people get inventive and, for example use a dorky Sponge Bob pillow...a little kid wants to keep it and then you've got a whole other set of problems *grin*...well, maybe you won't, but the driver in the car with the kid would! Of course, I had other thoughts too, but I thought I'd stick with Sponge Bob to be on the safe side.;)

farmgirl said...

The token system is actually a pretty big pain in the butt. Having to stop the last person, the chance that they'll just drive off with the token, or the chance that, as I said, they'll fling it out the window going by, and possibly break someone's window or injure the flagger.

Unfortunately, the only times we've used that system, we've been restricted to whatever we can find in our vehicles.

Dan O. said...

Get yourself a bag of those "stress balls" companies are always handing out with their logos on them. Maybe even the CDOT logo? Couldn't hurt anybody and no great loss if the moron keeps it. Heck, give 'em 2 and tell 'em they can keep one.

I've never seen pilot cars used here in Ohio. Lots and LOTS of concrete barriers and orange barrels though!

farmgirl said...

I prefer my radios, thanks, Dan.