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County Road Division Worker Crushed Between Asphalt Truck and Shadow Truck During Rolling Cold Patch Operation, Michigan

Michigan Case Report: 17MI012
Report Date: 06/25/2019


In winter 2017, male county road division worker in his 40s died while conducting rolling cold patch activities on a five lane roadway. The decedent was a member of a 5-person crew engaged in a rolling (continually moving) cold patch operation to repair potholes in a roadway. One crew member, the acting foreman, was driving the lead vehicle spotting the roadway for potholes and radioing back to the asphalt truck driver identifying roadway to be patched. Behind the asphalt truck with its attached trailer filled with asphalt were the decedent and another coworker, one of whom should have been acting as a spotter. Both were conducting cold patch activities, using shovels to obtain asphalt from the trailer and filling potholes at the time of the incident. The fifth member of the crew was the driver of the back-up vehicle, which had an arrow board to alert approaching drivers to the road patch work ahead and to protect the individuals on foot conducting cold patch activities. The sequence of events leading to the fatal incident are unknown; the police report indicates that the driver of the backup vehicle was attempting to retrieve a water bottle when the incident occurred and, according to the road commission, the driver fell asleep. The backup truck drove forward and did not stop. The truck struck and pinned the decedent against the asphalt trailer and struck his coworker. Feeling the collision, the driver of the lead asphalt truck placed the truck in neutral, set the air brake and left the vehicle. EMS was called and both workers were transported to a local hospital. One worker died as a result of the collision and one worker was severely injured.


  • No spotter in violation of road division policy
  • No collision warning system installed on shadow truck
  • Shadow vehicle not placed in neutral while patching activities took place
  • Shadow vehicle not placed in park prior to reaching for bottle which fell to floor
  • Vehicle drivers/spotter/patcher communication


  • Ensure all workers follow established standard operating procedures.
  • Revise safety procedures for cold patching operations for PSMWs and laborers to specify a more structured use of job rotation and the distance of the lane into which a patcher may enter.
  • The County should install visual or sensing devices on applicable mobile equipment to enhance the operator’s ability to detect the presence of workers on foot near the machine.
  • The County should consider developing a county-wide distracted driving policy for all drivers operating motor vehicles on the road.
  • Provide spotter training which includes, but is not limited to, duties, position, communication
    methods and safety drills between the spotter and the shadow truck and spotter and patchers.

County Road Division Worker Crushed Between Asphalt Truck and Shadow Truck During Rolling Cold Patch Operation, Michigan [PDF 867 KB]