On December 12, 2013 at 7:32 pm, a 59-year-old derrick operator was directing traffic to stop on a major 5 lane north-south highway, to allow a 40-ton truck and a large front loader to cross the unlit roadway. The victim was wearing a dark gray jacket with orange reflective stripes on each sleeve, above each front pocket and across the upper half of the back, a white hard hat and dark trousers. He was holding a small flashlight and a non-reflective stop sign. As he was standing in the roadway, he was struck by a 2002 red Chevrolet S10 pickup truck in the right northbound lane, traveling at 50 mph. The driver of the pickup truck stated he did not see the flagger. According to the driver’s operator license, the driver was required to wear corrective lenses. The driver was not wearing the corrective lenses at the time of the collision and informed the officer at the scene that he had a cataract affecting his right eye. Witnesses called Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and administered CPR. The EMS arrived and declared the victim dead at the scene.
The victim did not have experience as a flagger and was not wearing highly reflective clothing as required by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) code, which requires a class 3 high visibility reflective safety vest and a reflective stop sign for those flagging at night.
To prevent future occurrences of similar incidents, the following recommendations have been made:
Recommendation No. 1: Employers should implement and enforce traffic control-related worker safety training in addition to properly setting up an MUTCD.
Recommendation No. 2: Employers should provide proper MUTCD reflective clothing when employees are required to perform traffic control activities.
Recommendation No. 3: Employers should avoid assigning traffic control activities after dark.
Recommendation No.4: When corrective lenses are prescribed and an operator’s license is restricted to driving with corrective lenses, motorists must wear the corrective lenses while driving.