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Terrible Highway Accidents – The Least We Can Do

December 24, 2012

IMG_0194The cars were backed up as far as the eye could see. It’s rather unusual to see traffic on Interstate 70 reduced to one lane, let alone brought to a standstill. It snowed an inch or so the night before, but this was mid-day and there was no snow on the highway – or was there?

Traffic finally started creeping along.

As me and others got closer to the top of the roadway’s crest (where the road had been cut through the hilltop when built) it unexpectedly appeared – several inches of ice on the roadway.

The story later told was that the Department of Transportation was working on clearing the ice and had parked on the inside shoulder of the roadway. As is common practice on Interstate Highways the traffic wasn’t shut down while the ice was being removed.

A small passenger car with two occupants entered the icy area, lost control, and slid head on into the Department of Transportation truck. The driver of the car was killed and the passenger seriously injured.
It was a tragic accident that will probably repeat itself in a similar fashion multiple times in multiple places. The question I pose is, “Does it have to?”

As an eternal optimist I believe there’s always a way to do a better job at prevention. The problem is many believe we must affix blame firmly before we can delve into corrective brainstorming. And that’s probably why corrective brainstorming often doesn’t happen.

But, does it have to work that way? Let’s give it a try without affixing blame.

Can roadways be closed when ice is on isolated parts of the highway?
Can bright signs be placed where these dangerous places are?
Can there be lights on those signs that activate during bad weather?
Can we heat these vulnerable areas of the roadway?
Can we excavate the hill tops?
Can verbal warnings be sent to cell phones?

Amazingly, preventive actions can be suggested without ever even affixing blame.

The very least an accident victim deserves is that we use their accident as a means of creating preventive upgrades to save future lives. It’s the very least we can do.

Felipe Profile

2 Comments leave one →
  1. KDOT RETIRED Shop Supt. permalink
    December 24, 2012 2:46 am

    As a veteran of the KDOT traveling public needs to slow down call 511 get road conditions and they maps on the internet of road conditions. When they see Trucks and Graders working to clear snow and ice they need to slow way down and allow the operators plenty of respect and room. Icy conditions are not the cause they contribute to the cause but operator error on the part of the traveling public is often the primary cause of these horrible accidents. I have known many of the operators involved in fatalities with KDOT Equipment and the Operators never forget the accidents and must live with them for the rest of their lives. The primary objective of the KDOT is to keep traffic moving whenever possible and closing the roads some of the travelers always seem to get on the road somehow and it really hinders the clean up and removal of Snow and Ice from the road surface. There are no easy answers other than for the public to SLOW DOWN during these conditions. Thanks for letting me state my opinion. Retired KDOT employee.

    • December 24, 2012 1:27 pm

      I hope every driver in Kansas takes the opportunity to read your words. Thank you.

      Sent from my iPhone

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