Safety In Progress

WHILE GOOD for the economy, orange barrels are often times a motorist’s worst nightmare. They yield well-paying road construction jobs but the barrels also pose driving headaches. Safety can be placed at risk for drivers and workers alike.

To help remove, or at least reduce, the danger aspect of road construction, the Ohio Department of Transportation is partnering with the state on a pilot program. It was unveiled Friday and it aims at improving safety, reducing congestion, lowering the number of vehicle crashes in construction work zones and ultimately, saving lives of workers and motorists.

We see that as a comprehensive and worthwhile undertaking.

It is called the Variable Speed Limit pilot program and will utilize new signs in five different construction projects around the state. Similar signs are used in several other states but this is the first time they will be used in Ohio.

As a result, speed limits will be reduced in very specific portions of construction zones where workers are present and exposed to traffic, allowing for traffic to flow freely and at normal speed limits throughout the rest of the zone.

ODOT Director Jerry Wray is big on the new venture. “Today is another benchmark in our efforts to improve work zone safety. We’re protecting our workers and saving people drive time while doing it,” he said Friday.

We agree.

The Variable Speed Limit pilot program is being implemented in only five counties. However, it is projected to go statewide when the new construction season opens in 2013.

Each VSL sign will be equipped with a flashing beacon mounted above and below the sign. The beacons will be active whenever the speed limit displayed is lower than the normal statutory speed limit. When work is finished for the day the beacons will be turned off and the normal speed limit will resume.

The Variable Speed Limit pilot program is a safety initiative that make great sense.

Ways to slow down drivers in order to save lives cannot be initiated fast enough.