Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Answering a Question
TxPo-- I said that we *can* do so. Not that we do. Too many officers get used to being king of the road and forget that sometimes others have the "power." We do try to work with law enforcement and the emergency response people, but they have to understand that we're there to make sure that everyone goes home. I've been on jobs that had fatalities because of stupidity of people driving through... I don't want to be on another one, if I can avoid it. Everyone goes home at the end of the day in one piece. We can't ensure that if people do dumb things.
It is never safe for ANYONE to continue through a construction site without knowing whats going on, and without at least traffic control personnel knowing that they're coming. It poses a serious safety hazard, the workers are used to the timing between lines, not all of our flaggers have radios to be informed of them coming, and they don't know whats going on. They might run into something bigger than they are, that can't get out of the way fast enough. We generally try to get the supervisor to the end where they are, and escort them through the site in a safe manner, as fast as possible. I have personally escorted an officer through a site at eighty, BUT we didn't have any equipment on the road, I was able to direct him around any hazards, and he knew his job going through the site was to follow as exactly in my tracks as he could.
As for our radios... I guess from your sig you're a police officer of some kind. Let me tell you something... you're spoiled. We've got eight miles of road shut off, the pilot car and the supervisor's truck have big base units in them, and everyone else who has a radio, have handhelds. The base units will reach about four miles... five on a good day. The handhelds, depending on terrain, will reach about two to three miles. We can't hear both ends of the site at once.
The situation I was talking about there... the flagger on the end could not reach me in the pilot car to inform me that the officer was coming, the officer did not stop to find out about any hazards which he might run into, where traffic was, nothing. It was an entirely unsafe situation.
That said... most of the time we work with officers and ambulances. We'll hold all traffic for a few minutes and let them run on through, or escort them through in a safe manner, if we get a call that they're coming, or if they stop at the flagger and let us know where they need to go.
Situations where I would hold an officer or an ambulance are those in which it is safer, and will get them through faster, to wait a couple of minutes at an end, rather than running head on into a bumper to bumper line of traffic thats around two miles long. If traffic just left that end I would send them to catch the end of the line, or escort them down the dead lane, if possible.
My issue with the officer that I posted about is not that he was doing his job, or that he was in a hurry. My issue is that he failed to even attempt to accomplish things in a safe manner, and put me, my coworkers, and the traveling public in danger.
An extra couple of minutes is not worth someone's life, and you're not going to get there any faster if you get into an accident or kill someone. Its much better to check with traffic control before you start through than to have to explain to them later why their friend is smeared on the highway.