Think It’s Safe Working on Roads? Think Again.

If you need another reason to be extra cautious around road construction sites, Jared Rumford Jr. has a story for you.

While wrapping up work one day a little over a year ago, the DOT highway patrol foreman and SEA member, woke up to find himself in a ditch, around 32 feet from where he’d just been standing. As he awoke, concerned onlookers told him he’d just been hit by a car.

The crash happened on a Friday afternoon in late 2011 on a worksite on Route 108 in Stratham. Rumford was directing traffic as the crew was wrapping up for the day.

“We were breaking down the work zone and I walked up behind the flagger sign, which was off the pavement on the shoulder of the road,” Rumford said. “I’d just set my flagger paddle down and leaned over to drop my radio to the ground, and the next thing I know, I’m laying on the ground waking up, people over me and sirens and everything.”

“From what I understand, when I got hit by the car, once I bounced off the windshield, I got thrown roughly 10 feet in the air for about 32 feet straight out, and about 20 feet off in the ditch,” he said.

He was left with a concussion, a gash in his ear that required 17 stitches, lots of bruises, a torn meniscus in each knee, but fortunately, no broken bones. He ended up having surgery on his left knee and went through a lot of physical therapy. Despite all that, he wasn’t out of work all that long.

“I was back to work, probably, in two and a half weeks,” he said.

The accident drew little attention, with just a brief mention of a “pedestrian” being hit by a car in a newspaper. Rumford said the driver of the car supposedly fell asleep behind the wheel and faced no charges.

Rumford’s situation calls attention to the risks DOT workers face on the job, whether it’s doing work on roads or bridges, or clearing snow during winter storms. As well all rush by on our way to and fro, it’s easy to overlook these workers who put themselves in harm’s way to help keep the state running.

“Working the winter storms, you beat your body up, going without sleep working long hours,” Rumford said. “There are a lot of people who appreciate what you do, but it seems like a good majority of them don’t. Come summertime when contracts are being worked it, it seems like it’s all forgotten about what we sacrificed. … It’s disappointing.”

So when you’re out on the roads, keep Jared’s story in mind, and be sure to use extra caution and be aware of the hard-working DOT workers keeping our bridges and roads safe.

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