National Work Zone Awareness Week Starts Today

April 15, 2024
Motorists urged to take caution and be aware

National Work Zone Awareness Week begins today, and in Ohio drivers are being urged to stay alert and drive with caution on roads as local representatives highlight the importance of work zone safety.

Last week, representatives of local Ohio laborers’ organizations met to kick off NWZAW, observed from April 14-19th, and highlight the importance of awareness. Among the laborer’s organizations were representatives like Jeff Sellers, business manager for Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 1216, which represents more than 400 construction union laborers in the North Central Ohio region.

Sellers said the observance an opportunity to engage local elected officials to raise awareness in the community about the hazards associated with highway work zones, noting there have been 25,257 work zone related crashes in Ohio over the past five years.

Figures from the Ohio Department of Public Safety show 301 of those crashes were on major routes in Richland County including 180 on U.S. 30 and 43 on Interstate 71. Sellers said 92 of the crashes occurred in 2021 and 75 in 2022 when major construction was being done on U.S. 30, noting that there were billboards on either side of 30 on both ends of the construction area reminding motorists to drive safely and watch out for the workers.

In 2023 alone there were more than 4,000 work zone-related crashes according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP). Eight people died in work zone crashes and more than 1,000 people were injured.

“This week—and really the entire road construction season—is an annual reminder that work zone safety for all road users—including motorists and vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, bicyclists, and highway workers on foot—is extremely important,” said Kara Hitchens, public affairs manager for AAA. “Work zones and highway workers are crucial to upgrading and maintaining our roadways.”

Sellers said that although the ban on cell phone use while driving has helped improve work zone safety, the state of Ohio could do more.

“I believe there are 18 states, across the country that have work zone cameras in them, and I believe Texas has the most stringent law in place, where it’s up to a $2,000 fine if you’re caught going 'x' amount of miles over the speed limit in a construction zone,” he said. “I think there’s a lot more that could be done, but public awareness is certainly a big part of that.”

Sellers reminded the group that the orange construction barrels aren’t going away. There will be hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into states through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“There’s going to be work in this area, this region, throughout the country for many, many years to come, so I think it’s important that we should be doing this every year,” he said.

Wednesday is being recognized as ‘Go Orange Day in Ohio’ to show support for highway works and bring awareness to work zone safety.


Source: WHIOTV7, Mansfield News Journal

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