Fatal work zone crashes spike in 2011

Fatal work zone crashes have increased nearly 70 percent from 2010 to 2011.

With fatal work zone crashes up 70 percent from 2010 to 2011, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Jerry Wray reminds motorists to drive smart and "Don't Barrel through Work Zones" as part of National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week.

"Reducing fatal crashes in work zones begins with motorists," Wray said. "The consequences for driving carelessly, especially in work zones, can be deadly for both drivers and workers."

A ten year analysis of work zone crashes in Ohio revealed fatal crashes in work zones have decreased until recently. The study showed a 70 percent jump in fatal work zone crashes from 10 in 2010 to 17 in 2011.

Further analysis shows of the more than 5,000 work zone crashes annually on Ohio roads, 33 percent are from drivers following too closely.

In a recent speech to media and transportation officials in Columbus, Wray remarked, "Although ODOT continues to use new ways to improve work zone safety, the statistics are clear; motorist error is the number one cause of work zone crashes. If drivers give their full attention, obey reduced speed limits and donâ??t tailgate, we can make work zones safer for everyone."

In recent years the department has been working to make work zones safer by increasing visibility of vehicles, making near real-time safety enhancements to existing work zones and improving work zone access for heavy equipment.

To bring attention to motorist and worker safety in construction zones, the Veterans' Glass City Skyway bridge in Toledo will glow with a spectacular display of orange. The LED pattern will resemble an orange barrel to signify the important work zone awareness safety message. The display will run April 23 through Saturday April 28.

"We can't do it alone. Safety is everyone's business. Remember, 'Don't Barrel through Work Zones.'" Wray said.