Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Contractor escapes scary near-miss while setting up work zone

By Celeste Dimichina

In early April 2018, Gabe Barnes was resetting traffic barrels and making sure a nighttime work zone on SR 900 in the Seattle area was set up correctly. Then he heard one of the worst sounds a road worker can hear.

A car was coming at him. Fast.

Turning toward the sound, Gabe, an inspector for Atkinson Construction, saw a car speeding through the work zone and crashing into the traffic barrels marking a closed lane. This set off a chain reaction as drivers attempted to avoid the crash, with another car slamming into Gabe's work truck on the right shoulder, about 10 feet away from him.
Gabe Barnes' work truck was hit as part of a work zone collision in April 2018, but fortunately no one was hurt.

Despite signs – including illuminated video message signs – staged well in advance of the closure, the driver of the original vehicle said he didn't notice the advanced warning or that he was entering a closed lane. Not having much time to react, Gabe did the best he could to get out of the way, and luckily he wasn't injured.

In fact – and fortunately – no one was seriously injured in the incident. But it's another reminder of how important it is to stay focused and alert on our highways. We spend a lot of time on training and safety equipment, but road workers also count on drivers to help send them home safely to their families.

In Gabe's case, he's a husband and father of two sons and a daughter. He enjoys spending time with them hiking, fishing and camping – and we want to make sure he can do that for years to come.
Left: Atkinson Construction inspector Gabe Barnes was setting up barrels on SR 900 in the Seattle area when a car crashed into the work zone in April 2018. Right: Gabe enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and
three children, including camping and fishing.

"If drivers took a few extra minutes to slow down, focus and pay attention to their surroundings, it would help ensure that everyone makes it home at the end of the day, including the drivers," Gabe said.

While we're coming to the end of the busy summer construction season, there will still be plenty of road work happening as we move into the colder months, including road closures and emergency repairs. Please continue to be on the lookout for signs indicating road work wherever you travel. And, whenever you are around road workers, slow down, pay extra attention and give them as much room as possible. This will help make sure Gabe, you and everyone on the road can go home to their friends and family safely each day.