Study reveals highways are most dangerous place to work

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LENEXA, Kan. -- Emergency responders from across the metro area are learning how to be safer at traffic crash scenes.

The U.S. Department of Transportation says highways have become the most dangerous place to work.

The federal statistics are alarming. One law enforcement officer a month is killed at a traffic incident in this country.

More than one tow truck operator is struck and killed every week.

That's why the Federal Highway Administration started traffic incident management training to reach a national unified goal of improving safety for first responders, clearing crash scenes quicker and having better communication between all of the professions involved at an incident.

Although this training is for people working on the roadway, drivers approaching an incident can help by making better decisions.

"What they need to do is just keep moving," said Rusty James, an instructor with the Kansas Fire and Rescue Training Institute. "Put the phone down. We don’t need you to take any pictures or videos as you drive by. Watch for the signs. In the Kansas City area especially, we have all of those signs on the roadway and they provide good information. Listen to your radio. Know more than one way to get to where you are going. Make sure you know a detour route. In the event you encounter something, you can get off the highway and get to the location you need to go to."

Drivers should expect to see high visibility safety vests, orange cones and signs at crash scenes, as this training focuses on keeping roadways open.

Too often a closed roadway gives responders a false sense of security, and James says it's usually all too easy for a driver to get around a barrier.

More than one out of four firefighter deaths nationwide are traffic related, many struck and killed by drivers while working a traffic incident.

It's hoped that uniform procedures will become familiar for drivers and ensure that everyone gets home safely.

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