The Times West Virginian


May 1, 2014

Failure to slow for highway workers has consequences

There are a solid few weeks of 2006 that Division of Highways worker Bill Swan just doesn’t remember.

He doesn’t remember being hit by a vehicle, smashing his head against the windshield or falling with such force to the ground that it fractured his skull a second time. He doesn’t remember being on machines that kept him living and breathing for 12 days while doctors tried to the stop the bleeding in his brain.

He doesn’t remember the vigil his wife and sisters held at his bedside, not knowing whether he’d pull through.

You see, it shouldn’t have have happened. He was beyond the orange barrels placed there to protect him from oncoming traffic. There were signs posted several miles in advance of his work location. There were signs that flashed actual speed versus the speed limit. But a distracted driver ignored the posted signs, the warnings and the barrels. In fact, witnesses on scene say that the driver didn’t even initially stop or realize that a person had been hit.

And that’s how Swan became part of an average — there is one highway worker injured every nine minutes in situations like this. It’s fortunate that he wasn’t part of another statistic — there are on average three highway workers killed per day.

On Wednesday, state highways officials announced a campaign to bring awareness for the safety of construction workers along the roadways in West Virginia. Officials say there were more than 450 crashes in West Virginia work zones last year along with two fatalities.

And that just isn’t acceptable. A harsh winter has taken its toll on roads and bridges, creating massive potholes in addition to the massive wear and tear that a regular winter season brings. We complain about the size of potholes, gripe about the condition of the roads, yet seeing those orange construction barrels seems to bring us just as much grief. Why? Slowing down to a required construction speed limit and taking a little extra caution to keep aware in work zones will help the DOH workers get the job done a little faster ... and certainly much safer.

“Behind those barrels are people’s moms and dads and grandparents, and we all want to go home at the end of the day,” says DOH employee Lisa Booth, who works alongside her three adult sons on the state road crew. She’s part of a public service campaign reminding people that beyond the barrels are workers who deserve a safe environment to make a living in.

Yes, there will be delays. Yes, you may have to plan a cushion on regular commutes and road trips.

But, please. Take into account the men and women who are putting in long days in the hot sun and performing back-breaking labor to make roads safer and more convenient for drivers.

Also remember that failure to do so has consequences.

“Yellow and blue make green. When you see these yellow vests on these workers in these work zones and you don’t slow your vehicle down, then the next thing you may see is the blue lights on our cruisers,” First Lt. Michael Baylous with the West Virginia State Police said during the launch event in Charleston.

“When you see that, that’s where the green comes in. It’s going to be the court costs and fines that come with your irresponsible behavior.”

It’s sad that it takes the threat of fines to force drivers to take a little caution and protect the lives of construction workers. But if saves a life ... or two, the number of lives lost last year ... then it’s worth it.

Text Only
  • Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives

    It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
    We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.

    July 24, 2014

  • Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely

    The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
    It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
    It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.

    July 23, 2014

  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life

    Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
    And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.

    July 20, 2014

  • COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?

    Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
    I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.

    July 20, 2014

  • Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions

    This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
    The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    July 18, 2014

  • Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year

    It’s happening again.
    It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
    But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.

    July 17, 2014

  • County honors men who gave all in helping their community

    The next time you’re driving in the Rivesville area, you might notice new signs on two of the area’s bridges.
    Those signs, which bear the names of Alex Angelino and Denzil O. Lockard, were unveiled Saturday in honor of the men whose names they display, two men who died while serving their communities.
    The bridge on U.S. 19 over Paw Paw Creek was named to honor Lockard, while the bridge on U.S. 19 over Pharaoh Run Creek was named to honor Angelino. Lockard, a former Rivesville police chief, died in 1958 at the age of 48 while directing traffic. Angelino, a Rivesville firefighter, died at the age of 43 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in 1966.

    July 16, 2014

  • State must learn to keep costs down and perform more efficiently on less

    The West Virginia state government began its budget year last Tuesday with a small surplus of $40 million — less than 1 percent of its annual tax revenues — thanks only to dipping into its savings.
    Let’s not do that again.

    July 15, 2014

  • Long-range vision with transportation has been made to be thing of proud past

    Last week’s closure of Fairmont’s Fourth Street Bridge is a symbol of a problem that must be fixed.
    The United States should be proud of the vision its leaders once displayed to address the country’s transportation needs.
    Back in 1954, for example, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced his goal of an interstate highway system — something that transformed the country.

    July 13, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads