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Governor DeWine Announces New Initiative to Prevent Crashes in Work Zones – Mercer County Outlook

June 6, 2024

(Columbus, Ohio)- Ohio Governor Mike DeWine joined Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) Superintendent Colonel Charles Jones and Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Jack Marchbanks to announce a new initiative to reduce accidents in work zones.

Gov. DeWine

“Motors are expected to slow down and pay attention in work zones, but unsafe driving in road construction areas remains a serious problem. I have asked the Ohio State Highway Patrol to dedicate more resources to patrolling work zones, and police will have zero tolerance for reckless drivers. We do this not only to protect road workers, but also for the safety of all travelers.”

The enhanced enforcement includes increased forces, including motorcycle units, monitoring work zones on the ground and increased use of OSHP’s aviation unit to spot dangerous drivers from the air. Troopers will focus on violations that cause accidents, such as exceeding the speed limit, impaired driving, distracted driving and otherwise reckless driving in work zones.

Colonel Jones

“As our thoughts turn to warmer temperatures, graduations, family vacations and trips to the ball fields, it is important to remember the essential message that transferring, slowing down and paying attention to flashing lights can and will save lives. The Patrol is fully committed to identifying and addressing dangerous behaviors such as distracted driving and unsafe speed within work zones.”

There are currently more than 500 active road construction zones in Ohio, with approximately 950 additional road projects planned by the end of the summer. OSHP and ODOT are working together to ensure increased enforcement in every work zone, with a particular focus on longer-term work zones where accidents and reckless driving are common.

Since 2019, there have been nearly 26,000 workplace accidents, injuring more than 9,000 people, many of them seriously. In the same period, ninety-nine people died in workplace accidents, including nine road workers.

Then Kingwhose 21-year-old son Alex was killed in 2021 while working in a construction zone in Butler County –

“All I can ask of you is that you slow down, pay attention, put your phone down and realize that these accidents happen in a split second. One small distraction can cause a lifetime of destruction. You never think it can happen to you until it happens to you.”

,Linda Cookwhose husband Steve was killed in 2017 while working in a construction zone in Columbus –

“If you arrive at a highway work zone, be patient and consider the environment around the work area. Please be kind and try to have respect for all road workers, because in the end they just want to go home to their families.”

As part of this traffic safety initiative, ODOT is placing an increased emphasis on educating the public on the general importance of disembarking when passing people working on the side of the road. An Ohio peace officer, firefighter, road worker and tow truck driver are featured in the new “Not Just a Roadside Worker” campaign, which highlights that those who work on the roadside include husbands, wives, sons, daughters, mothers , fathers, grandparents, friends and neighbors. When passing a vehicle with flashing lights on the side of the road, the Ohio Move Over Law requires drivers to carefully shift into one lane or slow down if changing lanes is not possible

Director Marchbanks

“Whether they are in a work zone or responding to an incident, roadside workers need your help to keep them safe. Please move over and slow down, but above all, pay attention.”

The increase in work zone enforcement comes in addition to several other ODOT initiatives to prevent crashes at road construction sites, including the launch of a new queue detection program, the addition of rumble strips in certain work zones to warn drivers to slow down, and testing of technology which allows workers to remotely place and remove orange barrels in the construction zone.

The peak of the road construction season coincides with the “100 deadliest days of summer”, which extends between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year. During this period, fatalities typically increase due to an increase in traffic. In 2023, almost 400 people died in accidents between the end of May and the beginning of September.