April 20 – 24 is National Work Zone Awareness Week in Ohio and across the nation. You might think that you wouldn’t have to tell people to be careful if there’s someone working in the road. But you might also think that the Governor shouldn’t have to issue orders to people not to hoard toilet paper.
But, according to Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks “There were 6,574 work zone crashes in Ohio during 2019, an all-time record. It’s not a record we like to hold.”
Those numbers were up 40 percent from 2018. So far this year, it looks like we’re on pace to beat that record. Though, the COVID-19 shutdown might tamp those numbers down it down a bit. These accidents don’t just affect road workers. Drivers, passengers, and pedestrians are hurt and killed, too.
ODOT says the majority of those crashes are rear-ended accidents caused by people driving too fast or riding the bumper of the vehicle behind them. I think we’ve all been on the road with people that think if they push up your tail it will somehow get them where they are going faster.
Those 6,574 crashes caused 1,121 injuries. And 129 of those were serious. There were 16 deaths. Two construction workers were killed.
“The men and women who work on and along our roadways put their lives on the line each and every day to ensure our roads and bridges are in the best condition possible. All they ask in return is for motorists to pay attention to them, move over, and slow down,” said Marchbanks.
ODOT says that they’ve lost 162 employees in the line of duty since they were formed back in 1905. National Work Zone Awareness Week turns 20 years old this year.
Put Down Your Phone
Wednesday is National Go Orange Day. People are encouraged to wear the color of highway cones and barrels, take photos, and post them on social media.
ODOT also issued a warning that distracted drivers are a big danger to everybody but especially roadside workers. Just because you’re slowly creeping through one lane of traffic in a construction zone, doesn’t mean it’s time to FaceTime or text a friend.
“Drivers should always focus on the road, but driving in work zones requires extra attention and focus,” Marchbanks said.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol says there were 13,495 distracted driving crashes in Ohio in 2019. Forty-one of those were fatal.
To sum it up:
- Put down your phone
- Watch where you’re going
- Slow the heck down in construction zones
- Don’t kill road workers
- Drive safely