LAWRENCE COUNTY, OH (WOWK) — This week marks National Work Zone Awareness Week, a time dedicated to promoting safety through work zones on the road. Officials with the Ohio Department of Transportation say this week is not just about protecting work crews, but also protecting drivers so everyone is able to go home every night.
ODOT Press Secretary Matt Bruning says in 2019, there were 6,574 work zone related crashes across the state. “Following too closely is by far and away the top factor in work zone crashes,” Bruning said. “Work zones can change quickly, things can happen in work zones. People can hit their brakes because something has happened, and if you’re following too closely, you’re going to collide with that car in front of you.”
Since Valentine’s Day 2020, Bruning says 9 crews have been hit. The latest crash happened toward the end of March 2020, when Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s “Stay At Home” order was already in place. Bruning adds that this goes to show that just because there are less people on the road due to COVID-19, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily safer for the ODOT crews still working on the roads amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Bruning wants to remind folks who are still taking those “essential trips” to be on the look-out for crews who are still working on the roads, and pay attention to signage on the roads. “No matter what the situation is, we just really need drivers to pay attention, pay extra attention,” Bruning said. “We always want you to pay attention when you’re driving, but work zones require that extra attention. That’s why it’s so important for drivers to be focused on the road when they’re driving, especially in those work zones.”
Bruning says in 2018, 16 people lost their lives in work zone related crashes. Two of those people were part of work crews.