By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer
After the long winter months, the orange barrels of roadwork zones are a rite of spring in Ohio. Along with these orange barrels come road crews with lots of workers. To help keep them and drivers safe, we’re recognizing National Work Zone Awareness Week this week.
This year’s theme, Drive Like You Work Here, asks us all to view work zone safety as if we were part of the crew working to upgrade our roadways. Recent statistics from the National Highway Safety Administration show we can all think about work zone safety a bit more. For example, from 2016 to 2017, there was a 2-percent increase in total work zone fatalities and an increase from 668 to 710 total work zone crashes.
In 2017 there were 710 fatal crashes resulting in 799 deaths in work zones. Most of the fatalities were motorists – 132 of them were worker fatalities. As drivers, we can all do our part to protect ourselves and the men and women working in already hazardous conditions. The following tips from the Federal Highway Administration can help prevent accidents and save lives.
- Stay alert and minimize distractions – Avoid changing the radio station, using a mobile phone, eating, or other distractions that can remove your concentration from the road.
- Keep your headlights on – Improve visibility, especially in bad weather conditions, by keeping your headlights on.
- Pay attention to the road – Watch traffic around you and be prepared to react.
- Merge into the proper lane – Merge well before you reach the lane closure.
- Don’t tailgate – Follow other vehicles at a safe distance.
- Obey the posted speed limit – Slow down to save lives and to avoid hefty fines.
- Change lanes safely – Change lanes only where pavement markings indicate, and only when traffic conditions permit.
- Expect the unexpected – Workers, work vehicles or equipment may enter your lane without warning.
- Be patient – Impatience often leads to erratic and dangerous driving.
Be sure to follow the Ohio Department of Transportation on Twitter all this week for more tips and graphics regarding the importance of work zone awareness.