The Ohio Department of Transportation kicked off Work Zone Safety Week Monday because orange cones sprout every spring as trees bud and flowers bloom.
ODOT said that despite lower traffic volumes in 2020 due to the pandemic, there were 4,540 crashes in Ohio work zones. Eighteen of those crashes were deadly, resulting in 19 fatalities. Following another vehicle too closely is by far the top factor in work zone crashes.
“Driving requires all of your attention, but work zones require even more,” said Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks. “Things can change quickly and if you’re not paying attention the risk of a crash skyrockets.”
On June 9, 2020, there was a four-car pileup with serious injuries in a work zone on Ohio 49 at County Road D.50, north of Edgerton, when one driver failed to observe a flagger and stop for traffic. The same thing happened at the same location three days later for the same reason, but no injuries were reported.
The Patrol’s Defiance Post documented 60 work zone-related accidents in Williams County over the past five years, resulting 17 injuries.
By comparison, during the same time period, there were only 27 work zone-related accidents in Henry County with five minor injuries. Defiance County saw 23 work zone-related accidents with one fatality in 2017 but only three minor injuries reported since then.
In Fulton County, 113 work zone-related accidents were reported with four serious injuries and 13 minor.
“Each spring, hundreds of experienced contractors and their dedicated workers begin the arduous and hazardous task of building, rehabbing and maintaining Ohio’s highways, roads and bridges. It is a job that requires years of professional training, meticulous planning and attention to detail. In return, we ask only that the traveling public slow down in our work zones, pay attention to signs and directions and don’t text and drive,” said Mark Potnick, director of labor relations and safety affairs for the Ohio Contractors Association.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol also issued 7,378 citations for speeding through work zones statewide last year and 49% of those were for speed in excess of 20 mph over the posted limit.