COLUMBUS, OHIO (WOWK) — The Press Secretary for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) said on Tuesday his car was hit by a speeding driver in a work zone during National Work Zone Awareness Week.
ODOT Press Secretary Matt Bruning was traveling from a work zone awareness event when he noticed a police officer on a motorcycle attempting to pull someone over on Interstate 70 in Columbus.
“Next thing I know, a vehicle comes up along my side, hits the side of my vehicle, nearly pushed me into a concrete barrier, and keeps on going,” Bruning said. “After I talked to the Columbus police officer on motorcycle, he said, ‘Yeah I actually clocked that guy at 74 miles per hour in a 45 zone.'”
Bruning said police told him the driver had a suspended license. Bruning supposes this is why the driver fled during the attempted traffic stop.
“The driver took off and fled down the highway,” Bruning said. “Ultimately, he ended up bailing out of his vehicle when he got stuck in traffic and tried to run down the interstate and was apprehended by Columbus police a short distance down the highway.”
Bruning said the irony of the situation is that an ODOT employee in a department vehicle was hit in a work zone by a speeding driver during National Work Zone Awareness Week.
Bruning said work zone safety is important for all people using the roadway, not just workers.
According to Bruning, Ohio had nearly 4,800 work zone crashes in the last year. Bruning said 35% of those crashes had workers present, while other incidents posed risks to motorists and their passengers.
“Ultimately, he hit me in a vehicle,” Bruning said. “It could have been one of our men or women, or contractor, or a police officer or somebody outside their vehicle — somebody working along that roadway. And if you hit somebody at that speed, they’re probably not going to survive that incident.”
The collision was a shocking experience for Bruning. He is thankful he made it home safely to his family. Bruning later enjoyed a walk with his daughter to the playground, where he reflected on the scary incident.
“It was a moment of reflection, and I think about, you know, our men and women who are out there every day on the roads just trying to make these roads safe for all of us,” Bruning said. “And they have moments like that, that they want to share with their kids, their family too when they get home.”
Bruning said there are several simple actions drivers can take to make sure everyone gets home safe. Bruning’s advice is to pay attention, obey the speed limit, drive sober, and give road workers space.
“Those simple things can make all the difference in the world, and those are all things that are in the control of us as drivers,” Bruning said. “You know, we just have to make the right decisions out there. Clearly this person yesterday did not, and hopefully he pays the price for that.”