Opinion

Failure to slow for highway workers has consequences

An editorial from The Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — 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…

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