COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Transportation observed National Work Zone Awareness Week this week, an effort launched in 1997 as a public awareness campaign to help everyone understand they play a role in keeping motorists and roadway workers safe. This year’s theme is “Work Zones are a Sign to Slow Down.”
“Driving in a work zone requires your undivided attention. The men and women who work hard each day to ensure that we have safe roads and bridges in good condition deserve to make it home safely to their family at the end of the day,” said Gov. Mike DeWine. “Drivers can protect themselves and our workers simply by slowing down.”
Last year, there were 4,796 crashes in Ohio work zones, 35 percent of them occurred with workers present. These crashes resulted in 1,759 injuries and 29 deaths. Of those, 20 workers were injured and 1 killed.
ODOT workers, vehicles, and equipment were hit 154 times last year, resulting in 5 injuries. Already this year, ODOT crews have been hit more than 70 times.
“Speed and distracted driving are two of the biggest issues we see in our work zones. Ask any ODOT worker and they likely have a ‘close call’ story to tell. That’s unacceptable. Move over, slow down, and above all pay attention when you’re on the road. The lives of our men and women depend on it,” said ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks.
In 2021, the Ohio State Highway Patrol issued 6,015 citations in work zones with 41 percent being more than 20 mph over the posted speed limit.
Ohio law requires drivers to move over a lane for any roadside worker or vehicle with flashing lights. If unable to safely move over, drivers are required to slow down.
There have been 162 ODOT workers killed on the job, the last being John Pasko who was hit on I-680 in Mahoning County on March 15, 2018.
Nationally, work zone deaths have risen for five of the past six years. What many fail to recognize is the vast majority of people killed in work zone crashes are motorists and their passengers. In 2020, 117 of the 857 fatalities were work zone workers, making it all the more important for drivers to slow down and stay focused while approaching and passing through a roadway work zone.