Highway worker recounts close calls | WNYT.com

Highway worker recounts close calls

Kumi Tucker
Updated: May 05, 2021 07:47 PM
Created: May 05, 2021 06:51 PM

LATHAM - Almost every road worker has a story about a close call, a near miss. When men and women get into equipment to go to work, they want to get home safely at the end of their day.

Justin Grimes has spent 17 years working on the roads. One time, he had to jump out of the way as a car drove into the work zone. 

The DOT maintenance supervisor says he's had too many close calls to count. 

"One that really sticks out is while we were working on the interstate at night, we had a car that didn't move over in time and the traffic was not going to allow it to move over into the open lane. And it was just going too fast. It hit the attenuator," said Grimes.

There are terrifying scenes like one shared by the Thruway Authority: just seconds after a crew returned to their vehicle, a car came through the wrong side of the barriers and crashed into a work truck.

Just last week, two DOT workers were injured, one critically, in a work zone on the Northway. 

"Our folks are just trying—they're not out there to ruin your day," said NYSDOT's Bryan Viggiani. "They're trying to make the roads better and safer and more reliable for everyone. So slow down and do the right thing." 

The roads were pretty quiet during the pandemic, but now, as things open up, traffic is getting heavier. 

Grimes says drivers need to move over as soon as they see signs that a lane is closed ahead, and not wait until the last minute, jockeying for position. 

"A lot of our accidents on the interstates are because of that. Instead of people moving over when they first see the sign, they wait until the last minute to move over, and then we end up getting struck."

He wants every person to drive as if they were the one standing in the work zone. 

"How would you like cars to drive past you with only 18 inches in between you and the car, from time to time? How would you like that person to be driving if that was you standing on the road?"

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