HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Department of Transportation employees are working to get the word out about drivers slowing down and moving over as part of National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week.
“The problem we have, and I teach traffic management all over Virginia, most people are always in a hurry they’re worried about going from point A to point B they drive basically in tunnel vision,” said VDOT’s incident management coordinator, Phil Fonner.
Fonner says it’s an important message especially as of late.
“As a lot of you know I’ve had three … safety patrollers hit in 24 hours,” Fonner said.
Fonner himself said he’s had some near-death experiences out on the job.
“The first time I got hit, I was in my vehicle. It was a hit-and-run. I got rear-ended. The state police estimated the individual was going between 100 and 110 mph. I never saw it coming, did a couple 360s in a row and ended up on the jersey wall. I ended up with a broken neck,” Fonner recalled.
While light needs to be shed on the bad, there are also instances that demonstrate what happens when drivers and VDOT crews work together.
VDOT operations program manager for the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge Tunnel, Timothy Moorison, said crews got a call for a disabled vehicle in the tunnel on Oct. 18.
He said they quickly found out it was a single-vehicle crash.
“A first responder and a bystander broke the window and got the gentleman out. He was not breathing [and] did not have a pulse,” Morrison said.
Morrison was able to get through the tunnel quickly and efficiently to save the man’s life.
“We were able to administer two shocks and about five to six cycles of CPR. Newport News Fire arrived [and] took over,” Morrison said.
He said drivers moving over in this instance was crucial, and VDOT was able to get everything cleaned up safely in 45 minutes.
“The tunnel is only 24-[feet]-wide, two lanes, so when vehicles stop in that cut of traffic, it’s very difficult to respond, So, we ask the motorist to stay in their vehicle but move to the far left and far right,” he said.
VDOT said this week aims to educate drivers, passengers and responders in incidents like this.
They say everyone has a role to play when it comes to traffic safety.