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Give maintenance crews a break this spring

Date published: 4/14/2014

The maintenance crew at the Virginia Department of Transportation's Stafford Area Headquarters has a busy spring ahead filling potholes, mowing grass and clearing out drainage ditches. We want roads to be in the best condition they can possibly be for drivers. In return, we ask that drivers do everything they can to slow down and limit distractions as they travel through our work zones.

VDOT workers are drivers, too, and we know area residents want to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. We know the car can provide an attractive, uninterrupted time for motorists to catch up with family, call their kids, call the school, call the doctor.

That behavior can put highway workers in danger. As a flagger, I often stand on the side of the road to direct traffic. My only protection consists of traffic cones, a neon safety vest and hard hat, and warning signs. I have seen drivers approach me full-speed, and slam on the brakes at the last possible second when they've looked up to see someone in the road with a stop sign.

Recently, a fully loaded dump truck passed four work zone signs and continued to approach my position at a high rate of speed. I was able to jump out of the way. Fortunately, the truck driver stopped in time when he spotted oncoming traffic approaching in the same lane. He rolled down his window. "I didn't see you," he said.

Every year, 85 to 90 percent of work zone fatalities are motorists.

Please respect the men and women working to improve the highways. Help us do our job safely, so all of us can finish a day's work, and go home to our families.

Michael Bonepart

Transportation Operator, Maintenance, Stafford Area VDOT Headquarters