Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Answering a Question

Anonymous said...

A litte curious here. I completely undertand the State trooper doing 80 in a work area being reckless and uncalled for. But your comment "But, we can make you wait, no matter what the call is, until the pilot car gets there. Yes, we can, even if you're running hot. Courtesy goes both ways, Officer, not to mention the safety of the general public." Bothered me a touch, so maybe *we* can elaborate a little. Running hot lets say to an officer assist call in other words my buddy down the road is fighting for his life, I encounter your road construction. I understand fully BOTH my need to help my buddy and not to kill someone else or myself getting there. But can you actually consider any reason you would stop me from going? you stated you had radios. whats wrong with me stopping, informing the nearest worker with a radio of my delema(sp?) informing him to have a path cleared and I continue on at a safe speed? I am taking into account roads which may not permit this. But I think most of us are bright enough to know where to, and where not to drive by the tell tale little orange cones. Barring the thought of bridges or large drop offs can you seriously expect me not to continue on as safely as possible? Please understand this is not intended as an attack just a request for further information, as it is an interesting predicament, which I do intend to pass on to my supervisors. I do respect the work you do, and also understand how intimidating standing on the side of any roadway can be, with just my clothes betweem me and someones bumper. Thanks for your time, be safe out there. -TxPo

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.


Dan O. said...

Well farmgirl, that certainly clears it up as far as I'm concerned.

Especially your line Too many officers get used to being king of the road and forget that sometimes others have the "power."

Here in Ohio, by law, at an MVA (Motor Vehicle Accident for those who don't know) for instance, or any scene with a threat of harm to life or property, the Fire Chief or senior Officer In Charge from the Fire Dept. is in charge until he deems all threats to life and/or property are removed and turns over responsibility of the scene to Law Enforcement.

That's not what they're used to and some don't handle it well, at all.

farmgirl said...

I'm not saying that all cops disregard safety measures. Its more that they aren't instructed on proper safety within construction zones... just like you won't find anything on it in driver's ed manuals or classes.

That doesn't mean that there isn't a certain amount of it thats just common sense, however.

Jon said...

We had an emergency vehicle rush through a project last week. When they reached a traffic jam at a traffic light, they dodged through a "safe" zone and placed an entire crew in danger. Although they had a clear area, the area was only clear by coincidence.

At a traffic control school, the instructor, at the start of the class, mentioned that common sense was the most important part of traffic control. His feeling was that if you didn't have any, you should leave and not waste everyone's time. From my experience, those with the least think they have the most.

jon spencer said...

And sometimes you stop them because there is a big hole where the road used to be.

Anonymous said...

Your explanation cleared up every question I had in my mind. Thank you very much.
By the way, we're not all as spoiled as you might think. Radio reception at my department is proportionate to the distance to the nearest repeater. Long story short, my cell phone gets more milage. =) And thats all if I make it out of the parking lot with a running patrol car! (lol) But it sure keeps things interesting.
Still waiting on sergeant response btw, should be interesting..


farmgirl said...


Let me know what your sergeant says. If necessary I can write up a more formal thing on what *we* appreciate out of law enforcement, here in Colorado, to give him an idea.

There is no SOP for construction zones as far as I know... but there should be.