With this recent near miss, I would like to take a minute and talk about highway safety.
When I worked in Fire and EMS this was one of the most dangerous locations to work.
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – KUSI Photojournalist Will Giron was taking video of a freeway crash just before noon on Tuesday when he was nearly hit by a jackknifing semi-truck.
It happened on I-15 North at the Interstate 8 connector.
While Giron was shooting the initial accident scene, a one-car crash, a semi-truck driver lost control on the rain-soaked freeway, crashed into Giron’s KUSI News van parked on the shoulder and slid within just a few feet of where Giron was standing before coming to a stop sideways, blocking all northbound lanes. Giron’s camera caught the whole thing.
“I was out here shooting a previous accident … and next thing you know I hear some tires screech and this truck just all of a sudden starts skidding right beside me, starts jackknifing,” Giron said. “My whole life flashed before my eyes.”
Two cars traveling behind the semi came to a stop on the freeway. They were hit by cars behind them.
In all, six vehicles were involved in the crash. One woman required minor medical attention, but no one was seriously hurt.
A few years ago, the US DOT announced a regulation requiring ANSI complaint reflective vest for anyone when working on highways and other federally funded roadways. This includes fire fighters, police, public works and also the media. This is how and why you most likely ended up with one in your vehicle or news room closet. These are a good idea to help increase your personal visibility when working on a highway, but thats not all.
There are several things to consider
Visibility, Visibility, Visibility!
Make your self, your crew and your vehicle hard to miss.
Turn on all marker lights at all times, even during the day! If your news van has some sort of warning light activate it. My ENG vehicle has yellow LED lights that shine out the front and back to warn oncoming traffic and to make my presence known when working in areas of danger. Turn your four-way flashers on at a minimum. Do you have a flashing light on your dish or live truck mast? turn that on too! Make your self easy to see even during a bright sunny day.
Use your vehicle to block any stray traffic. You can replace a vehicle!
If you are on the right hand shoulder, use your van or vehicle and park it in a defensive manner and do your work in the front of the vehicle several yards to the front. This allows you to still see the oncoming traffic but provides protection should an unaware driver cross over into the shoulder where you are working.
Note how in this photo of a car accident, the fire truck and the police car blocks the scene for the ambulance crew to operate. Think how you could use your “assets” to protect your self and your crew when working on roadways. What are your assets? A vehicle and maybe orange road cones. A rear-ended news van is much more acceptable then you or you and your talent getting run over by a distracted driver.
What are your other options?
Can you shoot from an overpass or other location that still allows you to get your shots but is much safer?
Always use a tripod! if you use a tripod you will not be focused on holding the camera itself. Use the sticks so you can maintain your situational awareness and keep your head moving looking for dangers. You might be along the road for 45 minutes doing two live shots of 15 seconds each.. who wants to hold a camera that long anyways? Work smarter, not harder!
Here is a great link on covering storms. Although this article is geared for storm chasers, it applies to the news media as well.