MEDINA, Ohio — Every day on Ohio roadways, highway technicians and other employees from the Ohio Department of Transportation work to make our roads smoother and safer. But each of those days, they're facing a great amount of danger on our roads.
“Our number one priority is safety," said Lori Menk.
Menk, a mother of two and grandmother of three, has been a highway technician for ODOT for 12 years. She said every day she and other ODOT employees all hope for the same thing.
“We just hope that everyone can go home safe.”
In Ohio, the Move Over, Slow Down law requires drivers to move over a lane and slow down when passing any car or truck with flashing lights. According to ODOT, the law applies to law-enforcement officers, emergency responders and road construction, maintenance, and utility crews. The law applies to all roadways and highways in the state, and fines are doubled for failing to comply with it.
“And if you cannot move over, then slow down while passing the people working on the side of the road," said Crystal Neelon, the ODOT District 3 public information officer.
But, Neelon said, already this year nearly 80 ODOT crews have been struck while working on the roadways. In 2020, there were about 120 collisions in total.
“So you can see compared to our numbers last year we’re already ahead of where we need to be," Neelon said.
Menk said the biggest distraction she sees is cell phones. She said when speed is reduced for a construction zone, and the driver has their phone out, chances are that driver isn’t going the correct speed.
"Our safety is still at risk at 25 because people are not paying attention," Menk said.
“When you’re driving on the road and you see people working that’s someone's son or daughter, mother, father, grandmother, grandfather," Neelon reminded drivers.
Menk says she understands: all drivers want to go home from work or school on safe roads and see their friends and family. But, she does too. So, she asking drivers to follow the law.
“We all have our hardhats and our vest on. We’re very easily visible," Menk said. "We’re watching out for you, so we ask you look out for us.”