(Submitted by the Ohio Department of Transportation)
To kick off National Work Zone Awareness Week, ODOT wants to remind drivers that work zone safety is as much their responsibility as it is the workers’ responsibility.
Last year in Ohio, there were 4,662 crashes in work zones. Of those crashes, 1,131 were injury crashes and 13 were fatal crashes resulting in 14 deaths.
Of the 14 fatalities, four of the deaths were roadside workers.
“Have you ever been on a road and hit the rumble strips that have been placed to prevent you from going over the line?” asked ODOT Highway Technician 3 James DeSelms.
“Imagine working on the Interstate and hearing that noise while you’re outside a vehicle. It’s a scary feeling,” DeSelms shared with examples of drivers nearly striking ODOT crews. “It’s really important that you slow down, and move over for us, because we’re out there and we’d like to go home like you do every night.”
ODOT wants to get the message out that people need to be cautious in work zones, so we’ve created a memorial representing the four workers killed in Ohio’s work zones in 2018. This memorial will rotate throughout Northwest Ohio this summer/fall. It is our hope that seeing a visual representation of the four workers will emotionally affect the community, and drivers will remember to drive safely in work zones so everyone can return home.
“We really want to stress that those decisions that drivers make on the roads have a direct impact on whether workers get home safely that night,” said ODOT District 2 Deputy Director Patrick McColley. “We really want people to slow down. We want people to pay attention. We want people to get off their phones and really make an extra effort to pay attention in those work zones.”
Work zone safety is important for workers, but it’s also important for drivers. Last year, 10 people killed in work zones were drivers or passengers. Rear end crashes are the top type of work zone crashes and following too closely is the top contributing factor.
Ohio law requires motorists to move over a lane for all roadside workers. If they cannot move over, drivers should slow down.