Warren’s Words of Wisdom: Why Didn’t I Say Something?

The other day on my way home on Route 9 South just before I-91, I came up behind a tractor trailer with a flat bed in the right lane. As I moved to the left lane to pass, something about the flat bed made me look again. On the flat bed there were four 12”x12”x72” timbers that were probably the dunnage under the load that had been taken off. The part that didn’t immediately click was that none of the four timbers were strapped down to the trailer. They appeared to be loose (they could have been nailed down, but I really doubt it). DOT rules for load securement require there to be no loose materials, especially something like those heavy beams. If one or more of those beams were to have fallen off the trailer, I can’t imagine the havoc and damage they could have caused if they fell into the road.

Within a few minutes the tractor trailer went down the off ramp from Route 9 to I-91 North as I continued on Route 9 South. What should I do, should I call 911 and report the truck with the load securement problem, or do nothing?

I’m embarrassed to tell you I did not call 911 to ask police to pull the trucker over to fix the loose timbers. Why I didn’t, I cannot explain. Watching the news later that night was nerve-wracking because I didn’t want to hear of an accident and injuries caused by one of the timbers coming off the trailer, which I could have prevented if I’d acted. Gratefully, I haven’t heard of any accidents related to the trailer, but there could have been. What if something had happened to my family or yours?

I promise you that in the future, I will not hesitate to report a load securement issue to the police and let them deal with it. One simple phone call could save lives.

When you see something that isn’t safe, do you hesitate or debate what to do? If it helps make the decision easier to make, put your family or co-workers in the situation. If it means stopping the job just to talk about what you see or think needs to be fixed, I’d be the first one to say, “Thanks for doing that.”

The “High-Archy” of Wires

All wires on a pole are stacked in order of voltages, high to low, top to bottom. Everything on a pole has electricity, each one has enough voltage to kill or seriously injure you. Each wire/conductor on the pole has a minimum approach distance (MAD).  If you want to stay safe, stay at least this far away.

MAD distance begins at the end of the tool in your hand or the end of the ladder/scaffold/dump truck. etc.

Primary – 4800 volts to 23,000 volts – MAD is 10 feet                    

Being any closer than the MAD can allow the electricity to arc or jump to you or a conductive object, as it looks to go to ground.

Secondaries – 120/240 volts residential or commercial 240/480 volts three phase – MAD is avoid contact up to 301 volts, 1.09 feet above 301 volts

(Personally, I recommend a 10-foot MAD to any wire that can kill me—primary, secondary, it doesn’t matter.)

Phone and cable – up to 90 volts DC – MAD is avoid contact

(These have battery back-ups, so they are ALWAYS energized.)

The day after the storm, PW put the cones out and did all the right things staying away from the down wire. Would it have been better to make the stay away zone bigger with tape? Could a child or person look at this and think the scene wasn’t anything dangerous?

One more pole fact – when you see this red badge on a wood pole, it means the base of that pole is rotted and needs replacement. Mowing around and hitting a guy wire or backing into/hitting the pole could easily result in the pole breaking and coming over. A white “X” on a pole just means for CBYD to do a mark-out around the pole for future pole replacement, not that the pole is rotted.

Be Smart – Be Safe.

About Connecticut T2 Center

The Training & Technical Assistance Center at UCONN provides education and technical assistance to members of Connecticut's Transportation and Public Safety Community, including municipal public works directors, street and road maintenance superintendents and staff, city and town engineers, Connecticut Department of Transportation employees, transportation planners and law enforcement professionals serving as legal traffic authorities. We are Connecticut's LTAP Center
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