CLEVELAND — Construction season is underway in Ohio and the Ohio Department of Transportation has more than 829 projects on its schedule with a price tag of $1.94 billion.
A majority of that money is being spent on enhancing existing infrastructure.
As traffic recovers from pandemic lows, ODOT has a message for drivers to keep work crews safe: slow down and move over.
“Whether it’s impaired driving, distracted driving, turn around don’t drown, don’t crowd the plow; these are all messaged you hear constantly,” said ODOT Press Secretary Matt Bruning.
Next week marks National Work Zone Awareness Week. The campaign is designed to make drivers aware of the importance of driving safely in work zones.
“You talk to any ODOT employee, anyone who spends any amount of time on the road, and they will tell you one of the biggest factors they see is people staring at their phones,” Bruning said. “People not paying attention, People driving way too fast. Those are all driver behaviors we need to change.
Last year there were nearly 4,800 work zone crashes in the state of Ohio causing more than 1,700 injuries and claiming 30 lives. Every incident has a common theme: it was preventable.
“These numbers are way too high. Most of these crashes are preventable simply by a driver paying extra attention, allowing some extra space between them and the vehicle that’s in front of them, and slowing down,” Bruning said.
Those numbers include 154 ODOT crews that were struck on Ohio roadways. This year, there are already more than 70 crews that have been struck, including early Monday morning when a pothole patching crew was hit along I-480.
“These men and women are out there trying to do a job that benefits all of us,” Bruning said. “The only thing they ask for those drivers who share the roadway is just paying attention, slow down. When you see them out there, move over, give them space to work so that everyone can go home safe at the end of the day.”
Bruning said speed and distracted driving are two of the leading causes for work zone-related crashes.
National Work Zone Awareness Week runs from April 11-15.
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