TDOT worker shares close-call experiences, urges for work zone safety

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The Tennessee Department of Transportation is urging drivers to work with them during this National Work Zone Awareness Week.

The agency has lost 112 workers in the line of duty.

In the three-and-a-half years Scott Pendergast has worked as a TDOT HELP Operator, he was hit by three cars while on the job.

“I was unscathed luckily,” said Pendergast. “When an accident happens like that, we’re trained EMRs, so to help someone takes over. The person who hit my truck – my only concern was for them at that time.”

It’s a daily reality for Pendergast, his fellow TDOT workers, contractors, and first responders who work on Middle Tennessee’s roads.

State law requires drivers to slow down and move over in work zones.

“I get it, people can’t move over all the time but at least slow down, acknowledge us,” said Pendergast.

According to TDOT, In 2018, in Tennesse, 20 people died in work zone crashes, including workers, drivers, and passengers.

“Drivers and passengers- if they are crashing into a work zone, a lot of times they are the ones who come out on the bad end because you’re coming against heavy equipment,” said Kathryn Schulte, TDOT spokesperson.

The bright yellow TDOT HELP trucks are the first sign to move over.

Other signals to help you are airboards above the trucks telling folks to slow down and move over.

For extended closures lasting more than 15 minutes, there will be orange cones lined up to set up a safety barrier.

“There are so many projects and more projects coming and we really need people to be patient,” said Schulte.

“I love my job I love serving my community, but in that respect, I want to go out go home at the end of the day just like every other HELP operator,” said Pendergast.

National Work Zone Awareness Week goes until Friday.

Thursday is Go Orange Day – people can wear orange to show their support of work zone safety.

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