Winter weather presents unique danger for highway workers

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - Illinois Emergency Traffic Patrol driver Chuck McNair has seen some examples of bad driving.

"I saw a young lady, phone on her shoulder, operating the steering wheel with her knees," said McNair. "And she had a bowl of cereal, driving through the snow, with two kids in the car."

McNair said he is familiar with the story of the Illinois Department of Transportation worker who is recovering after being struck by a car Wednesday near I-64 and Route 111.

"He's doing a lot better," said McNair. "He's blessed to be alive."

A Maryland Heights police officer's cruiser was also struck by a motorist near I-270 and Page on Wednesday. And with more winter weather on the way, McNair said drivers should be on the lookout for emergency responders coming to the aid of other people.

"Just slow down a little bit and yield to the lights," he said. "Move over. If they'd slow down, it would be a lot better. But they don't. People pass us within inches."

McNair has been working as an emergency traffic patrol driver for 21 years. And he's seen some stuff.

"I've been hit several times out here," he said.

Hit?

"Hit," he said. "So I try not to think about it. If I thought about it every day, it would make it hard to do my job."

McNair said bad driving habits are made worse by bad weather.

"Sometimes people just don't pay attention to the lights we have on the vehicle," said McNair. "They've run into the vehicle when I've been inside. I've been outside the vehicle working accident scenes with Illinois State Police, and people literally will run into the truck."

Illinois State Police said the driver who lost control and struck the IDOT worker is likely to be cited.

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