COLUMBUS – Everyone deserves to get home safely.
National Work Zone Awareness Week, in its 21st year, is a national public awareness campaign that spreads the message that we are all responsible for work zone safety. The Ohio Department of Transportation joined several other partners in safety to kick the week off with an event at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.
Monday’s event featured an ODOT truck that was struck by a semi-truck on March 2. Allen County crews were sweeping the bridge decks at night on I-75 just south of SR 81 in Lima. Caleb Vorhees was in the truck hauling the arrow board and was on the side of the road, right of the white line. A semi left the driving lane, hitting the driver’s side doors. The semi bounced off and came to rest in the median. Vorhees, who is married and the father of two young children, suffered bruises and burns from the impact of the truck and side airbags as well as seatbelt injuries across his chest. He was off the job for two weeks due to his injuries.
ODOT crews were struck 125 times last year and have already been hit more than 60 times this year.
“These men and women are working to ensure transportation in Ohio is safe for all travelers,” said Gov. Mike DeWine. “All they ask in return is for drivers to pay attention and give them the room they need to get this important work done.”
Despite lower traffic volumes in 2020 due to the global pandemic, there were 4,540 crashes in Ohio work zones. Eighteen of those crashes were deadly, resulting in 19 deaths. 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.”
Statistics from the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse show there were 762 fatal crashes in work zones across the United States resulting in 842 deaths in 2019. In addition, 135 roadway workers were killed in work zones in 2019. The vast majority of people killed were motorists, passengers and pedestrians.
Wear orange on Wednesday to provide a visible reminder and to show your support for the families who have lost loved ones in work zone crashes.
Submitted by the Ohio Department of Transportation.