Slow down, save lives

The annual spring crop of orange barrels has sprouted, and it is growing all around our region.

Each year, motorists dread the beginning of construction season – even though they have complained for weeks about the deteriorating condition of the roads. Construction zones mean detours and delays, and most of us don’t have the patience or forethought to plan ahead and allow extra time in our daily commutes to and from work and various activities.

It is important, though, for us to slow down and pay even more attention when we enter such work zones. If we do not, the consequences can be deadly.

Friday marked the conclusion of National Work Zone Awareness Week. In recognition of the occasion, a memorial was set up at the westbound Interstate 70 rest stop near Belmont in the form of 28 cones with jackets and helmets – representing the 28 road workers who were accidentally killed across the Ohio in 2017.

But the workers who are filling potholes, replacing guardrails, rerouting traffic and building entirely new stretches of road are more than just hard hats and reflective vests. They are sons and daughters of people you know. They are parents, and they are siblings. They may be members of the square dance group that gathers at your local library, or they might have been your date for the prom.

They are real people who put their lives in danger every time they step onto a roadway to clean up debris or operate a piece of machinery. Because they try to minimize inconvenience to the traveling public, they often are working just a few feet from cars and trucks that are traveling at highway speeds.

Carrie Collins, safety consultant for District 11 with the Ohio Department of Transportation, said the message of the memorial is simple: slow down, be cautious and move to the side. She said the top causes of accidents by far are speeding and distracted driving.

“It’s a growing issue, the texting and driving, distracted driving in general. Anybody that travels in Ohio and on our highway system sees every day, people who are distracted behind the wheel,” she said.

We support ODOT’s message and urge you to reduce your speed and increase your awareness whenever you drive through a work zone. Doing so will surely save lives.