Editorial: Oklahoma highway workers face risks on the job
BY World's Editorials Writers
Thursday, June 28, 2012
6/28/12 at 3:34 AM
State transportation officials again are pleading with Oklahoma motorists to exercise caution in work zones in the wake of another death of an Oklahoma Department of Transportation employee.
Tim Vandiver, 47, of Checotah, was sitting in his pickup truck parked about 10 feet off of Interstate 40 near Henryetta when his vehicle was struck by a large motor home.
Vandiver was a maintenance superintendent and had worked for ODOT since 1994.
His pickup was flipped by the impact of the crash, and he was killed immediately. The driver of the motor home and six passengers were treated for minor injuries.
According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the driver, who is from Idaho, said he had felt "sleepy" before the crash.
The death is the first work-related death for ODOT this year and the 57th in the department's history. Last year was the department's worst for injuries resulting from accidents in work zones.
Last November, ODOT employee Ira Henderson of Bartlesville was killed when he was struck in a work zone on U.S. 75 near Ramona. Twelve other people also were killed in highway work zones last year in Oklahoma.
What's especially sad about these deaths is that all of them were preventable. There's a reason speed limits are greatly reduced and fines are much higher in work zones: They're inherently dangerous stretches of road precisely because of the work going on in the area. But most motorists seem to pay little heed to work-zone rules, judging by the speed of most vehicles in work zones. And it's not just highway workers who face injury and death in work zones.
We owe it to these hard-working Oklahomans to slow down, be attentive and keep them safe.
Original Print Headline: Highway dangers