OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha city employees narrowly avoid getting hit by cars while working in what one driver calls unsafe conditions.
It was all caught on William Whyde’s dash-cam video. “I'd seen some people moving. I slammed on my breaks and they're in the middle of the street."
Around 5 a.m. last Monday Whyde says he was safely driving the speed limit but nearly hit two city workers on north 30th street. "There's not lights on them at all. I didn't want to hit them so I slammed on the breaks and locked them up."
It was only a near accident with no injuries. Whyde says the men in the crosswalk began to yell at him. He says he felt like there was nothing else he could have done to slow down and that the workers were being unsafe standing in a busy street with oncoming traffic.
"We have different protocols that we follow for different types of projects," explained City Engineer Todd Pfitzer. "I'm certainly grateful and thankful that nobody was hurt and that nothing happened.
We showed him Whyde’s dash-cam video after Whyde questioned whether all protocol was being followed. Pfitzer told us he was not exactly sure what this crew was working on in the crosswalk. He says if they knew they would be working in the busy street that there should have been at least more warning from signs or lights. If they're performing actual road repair work they should close lanes.
"Why are they working out here in the dark with no lights?" asked Whyde. In the video you can see they have a truck parked with a flashing light and cones that outline the crosswalk but there’s no way to see much of that until the vehicle is just feet away from the workers.
Pfitzer tells WOWT 6 News that city workers take their own safety seriously. He asks that drivers also do their part to keep their eyes open. This could be a growing concern if you're out on the roads in the morning darkness. You'll be seeing more city crews.
"We've had some heat related injuries associated with working outside," said Pfitzer.
City workers have just shifted schedules for the hot weather. They'll be working early hours to avoid mid-day heat.
"Before you start working in the middle of the street shine some lights on you so people can see you. He could have been hit."
You may recall a city employee was killed on the job back in January near 144th and U streets. The driver in that incident was cited. City officials tell us that loss has had a huge effect on the Public Works Department and how they implement safety for their workers every day.