Work zones are temporary, actions behind the wheel can last forever

WORK ZONE AWARENESS Week is underway, and the annual nationwide initiative aims to improve safety for roadway construction workers.

The week serves to remind drivers that they need to be extra cautious in work zones. The annual spring campaign is being observed from April 15-19 this year. It is a safety-minded kickoff to the yearly road construction season.

“It’s important that drivers remember to look out for the safety of our road crews as they work hard to keep our streets and highways safe,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in a news release from the Ohio Department of Transportation. “Paying attention, slowing down, and giving crews room to work are simple steps that all drivers can take to prevent tragedies in our work zones.”

So far in 2024 alone, 43 Ohio construction crews have been affected by work zone-related incidents. There have been zero fatalities in those zones in Ohio in 2024.

Ohio Department of Transportation District 11 spokeswoman Lauren Borell said that in the seven counties she covers, there have been zero work zone-related incidents in 2024. District 11 serves Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson and Tuscarawas counties. According to ODOT’s website, “the district maintains over 3,383 lane miles of interstate, federal, and state highways.”

Nationally, 857 people, including 117 workers, were killed in 774 fatal work zone crashes in 2020, according to the most recent data available. In Ohio, there were 4,628 work zone-related crashes last year. Of those, 21 were deadly, resulting in 23 deaths though no workers were killed. The Ohio State Highway Patrol wrote 4,477 work zone citations in 2022 with 35% of them for speeds in excess of 20 mph over the speed limit.

“Too many of these work zone crashes are the result of drivers not paying attention, speeding, or following the vehicle in front of them too closely,” said ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks. “It is imperative that drivers give extra attention to the road in work zones and obey the speed limits and other signs so that everyone makes it home safe at the end of the day.”

The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission released a few tips for drivers to follow, such as establishing a safe following distance, obeying the work zone speed limit (because of reduced lane widths, traffic lane shifts, and narrow shoulders), avoiding distractions, paying attention to signs and being prepared to slow down or stop.

The theme for this year’s Work Zone Awareness Week is “Work zones are temporary. Actions behind the wheel can last forever.”

The message behind the theme is that there could be life-changing repercussions for the driver and everyone involved.

According to the National Work Zone Awareness Week website, “Motor vehicle safety is one of the most important things on the roadways, as millions of workers use them as part of their jobs, and motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the U.S.”

Today is Go Orange Day. The public is encouraged to wear orange to show awareness for work zone safety and support for road workers.

On Friday the work week will end with observing a moment of silence. Started in 2022, the moment of silence will be in remembrance of men and women who were killed in work zone incidents.


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