Road worker 'superhero' assaulted by drivers in line for award

He has freed a crash victim from their wrecked car, talked down a would-be suicide and successfully chased a shoplifter - on top of suffering “horrendous” abuse from drivers for doing his job

Sunday, 13th September 2020, 7:30 am
Updated Sunday, 13th September 2020, 12:03 pm
Dunky Ferguson
Dunky Ferguson

Road worker Duncan “Dunky” Ferguson is a “superhero” in the eyes of colleagues who look after motorways and other major roads in south west Scotland.

Now his exploits have seen him shortlisted for the prestigious Frontline Employee of the Year award at the Scottish Transport Awards next month.

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The honour highlights the chronic mistreatment of road workers by impatient motorists.

Dunky Ferguson with fellow road workers on the M8

A survey last year showed nearly one in three in Scotland have had to dodge missiles thrown from cars, such as cans and eggs.

Ferguson, a member of the incident response team, even had a frustrated driver trying to drag him out of his vehicle when the A737 was closed by a fatal crash before he had a chance to explain.

Bricks

Balfour Beatty and WSP-owned road maintenance firm Scotland TranServ, whose contract switched to Amey last month, said: “Like all road workers, Dunky has experienced horrendous abuse at the hands of the motoring public.

Amey last month took over the maintenance of motorways and other trunk roads in south west Scotland from Scotland TranServ

“Drivers have thrown cans, sandwiches, bricks and bottles of urine at him, as he simply tries to do his job, and help to make their roads safer.”

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Ferguson has been part of the team for seven years, whose wide-ranging work also includes assisting stranded drivers, removing debris from roads, clearing culverts and collecting litter.

He has freed a 19-year-old woman from her overturned car after a four-vehicle crash on the A78 near Greenock, wrenching open the passenger door so she could escape.

Amey maintains the trunk roads coloured yellow. BEAR Scotland is responsible for those in blue, pink and orange. Roads in other colours are maintained by other firms as part of their construction contracts.

The road worker, who is trained in talking to people with suicidal behaviour, persuaded a vulnerable person who was precariously perched on a bridge parapet over the M8 near Paisley to climb back to safety.

In Dalry, he chased and caught a shoplifter who had snatched expensive items from a corner shop, holding them until police arrived.

Ferguson has even tackled a blaze at an elderly woman’s home after she accidentally set three trees alight while trying to burn weeds in her front garden.

‘Inspiration

His bosses said: “Always happy to help, eager to learn and keen to engage, Dunky is an inspiration to many as Scotland TranServ’s very own superhero.

“Dunky delivers day after day, supporting road users in a way that few could even contemplate.”

Last year’s survey, carried out by Scotland’s three trunk road maintenance companies, also showed 70 per cent of road workers had suffered verbal or physical abuse from drivers.

CCTV has been installed at some roadworks sites in an effort to curb such behaviour.

Frustration

The Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency, which is charge of the road maintenance contracts, said it was seeking to stamp out road worker abuse.

Its spokesperson said: “We are always concerned when we learn of incidents of abuse that our road workers have faced.

“These people work hard to keep our trunk roads running safely and deserve our thanks.

“They should not have to face this kind of behaviour when they are just doing their jobs.

“We appreciate roadworks can cause frustration with drivers, but they are necessary to make sure our road network is fit for purpose.

“We continue to work with our operating companies and the wider industry to help tackle these problems with a small minority of road users.”

The award, to be announced on 28 October, is for workers who have gone “beyond the call of duty”.

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