Drive safe during summer mowing season

T-L Photo/JENNIFER COMPSTON-STROUGH Sarah Scott uses a riding mower to cut grass on her property in Belmont. Drivers are cautioned to take it slow and be careful to avoid mowers near the roadside.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Warm, wet spring conditions have people across the region mowing grass every chance they get, and that can be a dangerous task at the edges of properties that lie along roadways.

Belmont County Engineer Terry Lively said a three-vehicle crash involving a mower occurred early Tuesday on Belmont County Road 214 near the intersection of Dixon Hill Road outside Neffs.

“It could have been very bad. There were some minor injuries. We were lucky, very lucky,” Lively said. “It appears someone was trying to pass our mower, went left of center and struck a vehicle head-on in the other direction, which sent this vehicle into the back of our mower.”

Lively said that his crews are active during seasons when grass grows rapidly.

“This time of year, we’re mowing every chance we get. It’s an all-summer job, and it actually goes beyond the summer months. We try to cut the brush away from the road. This year, especially with all the rain, it’s growing faster than we can cut it,” he said. “We have advance signage. The signage was up. The lights on the back of the mower were on. Our operator was doing everything he was supposed to do.”

The mower operator was unhurt, but the others involved in the crash suffered injuries, Lively said.

“Whenever they see our equipment out working along the road, slow down and keep their eyes open. Just be careful,” he said. “Slow down and take your time.”

According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, its crews are also entering peak mowing season. ODOT asks drivers to be aware of their work along state highways.

ODOT maintenance crews mow four times a year in general, with special attention paid to problem areas that might obscure sight distance. Like the county engineer’s staff, these crews also use “Mower Ahead” and slow-moving vehicle signs to advise motorists of their work. They are spaced no more than 5 miles apart. However, sometimes on rural highways motorists forget about the work zone signs by the time they reach the mower.

Tips for motorists to remember during this mowing season include watching for signs, slowing down, keeping a safe distance, and watching for workers.

Workers carefully monitor the height of their mower deck to avoid throwing objects, and litter crews try to pick up large objects before mowing begins. However, motorists are advised when approaching mowers to keep a safe distance behind them, because trash and debris can be easily hidden in high weeds.

Additionally, ODOT reminds motorists to use caution when traveling through all work zones this summer season.