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|SUBJECT:||Safety Procedures When Working In or Near Moving Traffic|
|TOPIC:||"Struck-By" LODD Statistics and Official Temporary Work Zone Terminology|
|OBJECTIVE:||Responders will better understand the nature of U.S. "struck-by" line-of-duty deaths and will increase their awareness of the standards and guidelines presented in the DOT's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.|
|TASK:||After reading through this information, study and discuss the latest "struck-by" incidents and close calls as presented on the website of the Responder Safety Institute by visiting www.respondersafety.com for details.|
For 2002, authorities documented seven U.S. firefighter fatalities due to being struck by moving vehicles; of those, five occurred while the firefighters were working in or near moving traffic at fire or traffic accident scenes.
Of the 57 U.S. firefighter line-of-duty deaths reported by mid-August of this year, two were moving-traffic "struck-by" incidents. On March 18, 2003, 20-year-old Lance Mathew, a firefighter with the LaBelle-Fannett, TX, Fire Department was struck by an 18-wheeler at 3 A.M. while crossing Interstate 10. He had responded in his personal vehicle to a minor collision on the highway and arrived ahead of the emergency vehicles.
Thirty-one days later, in Medford, NJ, 63-year-old Woodrow Pinkerton succumbed to injuries sustained when he was struck by a car while controlling traffic on State Highway 70 at the scene of a motor vehicle accident on a foggy morning. The accident was the fifth in a series of 10 accidents in just over an hour that morning.
Photo by Ron Moore
If this is how your department currently operates while working in or near moving traffic, you are prime candidates to be victims of the next “struck-by” incident.
As our line-of-duty death statistics continue to show with each passing year, working in or near moving traffic places responders at significant risk of injury or death. Regardless of whether you volunteer your services or are paid for what you do, when you are at a crash or fire scene and are working in or near moving traffic, you are considered a "highway worker" and fall under federal Department of Transportation (DOT) standards and regulations. The content of these national regulations is just now becoming known to the fire service and the impact of these federal highway standards is beginning to have an effect on our incident scene operations. This first University of Extrication article of the safe parking series will introduce these standards and provide an overview of their content.
Laws and regulations didn't stop the alcohol-impaired drivers who killed several of our firefighters last year in struck-by incidents. Even DOT standards won't prevent the speeding 18-wheeler from crashing into your emergency scene. Proper highway response training, improved highway safety personal protective equipment (PPE), special techniques for advance warning to approaching motorists and the skills necessary to create a physical barrier between you and moving traffic will. Highway traffic management techniques, the latest highway safety PPE and critically important personal survival skills are the focus of the additional articles of this multi-part University of Extrication series.
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) publishes a document called the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, otherwise known as the MUTCD. It contains all national design, application and placement standards for traffic control devices.
The MUTCD is adopted by reference in accordance with title 23, United States Code, Section 109(d) and Title 23, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 655.603, and is approved as the national standard for designing, applying, and planning traffic control devices. The existence of the MUTCD means that all traffic-control devices we utilize and even the actions we take as emergency responders when working in or near moving traffic must comply with MUTCD standards. There are no exceptions.