An important week for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is National Work Zone Awareness Week, which is April 11-15 this year.
“This is when we show an extra level of support for those who maintain the highways, who work alongside their coworkers performing needed work under significant risk, and who truly serve the public through their jobs,” said Pat McColley, ODOT District 2 deputy director.
National Work Zone Awareness Week first 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, and 35% 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 five injuries. Already this year, ODOT crews have been hit more than 70 times.
Locally, ODOT crews in northwest Ohio were struck nine times in 2021 while performing work related to highway maintenance.
“We emphasize repeatedly to our employees to work safely every day, to be on watch for each other, and to keep our work zones safe for motorists passing through,” said Chris Hughes, ODOT District 1 deputy director. “We rely on those we share the road with to drive as safely as possible all the time, but especially through work zones,” he said.
“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% being more than 20 mph over the posted speed limit. Ohio law requires you to move over a lane for any roadside worker or vehicle with flashing lights. If you cannot safely move over, you’re 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.