LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - A crew member with the City of Lawton’s public works department is recovering after he was hit by a semi while on the job two weeks ago. It happened while the crew was fixing pot holes on an on-ramp to Lee Blvd. Now more than ever, city staff are urging citizens to be more cautious in work zones.
“It’s definitely a big responsibility when employees go out to work in traffic because everybody isn’t always willing to obey the traffic signage that we put out,” said James Bearbow, traffic control supervisor for the City of Lawton.
City crews use cones, flashing lights, signs, reflective gear, and more, however, safety is still a major concern.
“A lot of things happen that aren’t real pleasant,” said Bearbow. “We’re not only trying to do a job out there, and people want to see the roads fixed, but they don’t always want to slow down or be inconvenienced by having to take a different route, an alternate route that they normally take. They do holler slurs at us. They do speed up, drive close to our cones, drive close to the people. But, you know, it’s something we know that happens and we’re prepared for it.”
Bearbow said they sometimes designate employees specifically just to watch traffic and let others know if a driver is coming too close or too fast.
He said if crews continue to have problems while working a job they will lower the speed limit, and if that does not work, they will ask for help from law enforcement.
“We want them to be aware that when there are workers present, slow down," said Sgt. Timothy Jenkins with the Lawton Police Department. "Get over and make sure that you are looking out obviously for the workers on the road. Even if there isn’t a sign posted or there is even a sign posted, make sure you slow down to that speed, or you get over.”
Bearbow said people working in this type of job expect things like this to happen, but, of course, no one wants them to.
“We can look at things that happen in other cities, things that happen in the state, things that we can do to try to do to improve our traffic control to better protect the workers and the people driving through our work zones," said Bearbow. "But I don’t think you can reach out to everyone.”
Bearbow said to keep in mind these workers are trying to do their jobs to keep you safe on the roads, so you should try to keep them safe on the roads, too.