Crash a Reminder of Danger DOT Crews Face

DOT Operator Escaped Serious Injuries When SUV Hit Backhoe Head On

This photo by the Bristol Police Department shows the scene after an SUV crashed head-on into a DOT backhoe. The backhoe driver suffered minor injuries, but the driver and passenger of the SUV remain hospitalized in critical condition.

This photo by the Bristol Police Department shows the scene after an SUV crashed head-on into a DOT backhoe. The backhoe driver suffered minor injuries, but the driver and passenger of the SUV remain hospitalized in critical condition.

Our Department of Transportation crews put themselves at risk every day out on the roads. Despite their best efforts, sometimes bad things happen, like the accident this week on Route 104 in Bristol.

A DOT operator was driving a backhoe back to the shed after clearing snowbanks from around driveways along Route 104. Suddenly, a driver headed in the other direction swerved his SUV across the road and slammed head-on into the backhoe. Fortunately, the DOT operator suffered only minor injuries, though the driver and passenger in the other vehicle were severely hurt. Police have said the DOT worker was not at fault.

The bucket of the backhoe sustained extensive damage. Fortunately, the backhoe operator was wearing a seatbelt and only suffered minor injuries.

The bucket of the DOT backhoe sustained extensive damage. Fortunately, the backhoe operator was wearing a seatbelt and only suffered minor injuries.

Alan Hanscom, the district engineer and an SEA member, said that the operator did everything he was supposed to do — he was wearing his seatbelt and tried to avoid the oncoming vehicle as best as he could.

“We’re all taught to drive defensively, watch out for the other guy and expect the unexpected,” Hanscom said. “When they’re transporting a vehicle, the bucket is low to the ground to help the center of gravity and to limit damage should it strike something. In this case, it provided a good bumper to protect our driver.”

It’s not clear why the driver of the other vehicle swerved into the path of the backhoe, though police told the Union Leader he will face a variety of charges. Hanscom said the DOT operator had pulled as far over as he could and had slowed down, nearly to a stop, to avoid the crash.

Hanscom said DOT workers are always thinking of the possibility of danger, and watching out for each other.

“They’re always wondering what’s going to happen next,” he said. “Looking at the guy riding the back bumper, thinking he’s going to try to pass. They’re always playing out these scenarios in their heads.”

“They’re trying to always be aware of their surroundings, and stay one step ahead of whatever the next bad thing is,” he said. “Whether they’re working on a guardrail or replacing a culvert, if they’re not in their patrol yard with the gate shut, there’s a chance something could happen.”

We hope that the driver and passenger in the other vehicle are OK, and we’re very glad that our DOT operator was not more seriously hurt. Incidents like this remind us of the danger that workers can face out on the roads – even when they’re doing everything right – and the need for all drivers to use extra caution around work sites and DOT vehicles.

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