CLEVELAND — Road crews in Northeast Ohio now find themselves in even greater danger, as the number of work zone accidents continues to grow. Three crashes involving Ohio Department of Transportation workers occurred in just the last day alone. The latest happened early Thursday morning when a driver slammed into a truck on I-90.
Since the start of road construction season, we have seen a string of crashes on both the west and east sides of Cleveland in work zones.
"You just have to constantly be looking in all directions and concentrating on trying to do your job at the same time," said Frank Tamburello, ODOT employee.
The men and women trying to improve our ride around town understand the risks they face, but they're growing frustrated with some drivers who continue to jeopardize their safety.
"Every day we're out there it's always a danger," said Tamburello.
It’s a risk Tamburello said he accepts.
"This is what I signed up for, this is part of the job," said Tamburello.
However, the danger the highway worker faces appears to be escalating at an alarming rate.
"People who are on their phones or just are not paying attention. Unfortunately, there have been accidents a lot lately," said Tamburello.
In his 10-years working on our highways, Tamburello has seen a handful of crew members hit by cars.
"Impaired driving, distracted driving are the big things. Please slow down and move over," said Tamburello.
With those images of previous accidents ingrained in his memory, Tamburello's always paying extra attention on the job.
“Keep your head on a swivel. You're constantly looking to your left, to your right, you're watching the traffic," he said.
All of that while trying to focus on his job and keep tabs on his coworkers.
"Not everybody can be looking in the same direction at the same time," said Tamburello.
It's the same routine whether Tamburello is working during the day or at night.
"The public appreciates when we can do more work in the nighttime hours, it's not effecting their commute time," said Tamburello.
That convenience though comes at a cost, as accidents involving drunk drivers are more likely during those early morning hours.
So why not do more work while the sun's up?
"There's always that talk, but there's just a lot of work that can't be done during the daytime hours and that we can get done better at night when there's less traffic," said Tamburello.
At the end of the day, Tamburello knows that all his precautions may not be enough anymore to ensure he's able to go home when his shift is up.
"You don't take that for granted. You say a prayer every day that if eight people go out eight people come back," said Tamburello.
An ODOT spokesperson said last year in Cuyahoga County alone there were more than 720 work zone crashes.
Nearly half of them occurred while workers were present. Seven of those people were seriously injured.