This Week is National Highway Work Zone Awareness Week That Hope to Lessen Work Zone Injuries and Worker Fatalities
Each April, OSHA, AASHTO, and ATSSA have worked together to improve the safety of workers on national and state highways. National Work Zone Awareness Week offers a new focus each year, and for 2014, the focus is on highway safety and work zone speeding. The NWZAW program has been in place since 1999, and this week, National Work Zone Awareness Week is April 7-11. Nation wide, the program is highlighting the importance of roadside safety- both for workers and for drivers. Penalties for not following work zone safety laws can result in fines, jail time, or even a life sentence. Recklessness results in hundreds of injuries and fatalities each year.
Over the past decade, the safety statistics for Ohio’s road workers has only marginally improved. Between 2002 and 2011, work zone accidents were as follows:
- 169 deaths from vehicle crashes in work zones
- 19,988 work zone rear-end collisions
- In 2002, 29 people died in work zone crashes
- In 2009, 8 people died in work zone crashes- the lowest number of deaths in Ohio’s recorded history
- Work zone fatalities are on the rise- from 2009 to 2011, the average number of deaths doubled to 16.
- In 2012, 17 individuals were killed in a roadside work zone
- 7 ODOT employees have been killed in a work zone
- 56,945 total accidents in work zones
- 20,590 vehicle crashes when workers were present
- 1,500 vehicle crashes as a result of speeding in a work zone
- Improper lane changes
- Following too closely
- Failure to control a vehicle
All three are preventable and this weeks Work Zone Awareness hopes to keep our construction workers safe and bring the numbers down.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is doing its part to cut down on speeding accidents in work zones. However, it was not until 2012 that Ohio State Legislator allowed ODOT to impose work zone speed limits. ODOT is allowed to post a temporary speed limit to improve the safety of the construction workers and drivers on the road. In addition to variable speed limits, Ohio is using National Highway Work Zone Awareness Week to encourage drivers to follow work zone speed limits. As the law stands, drivers cannot be penalized for not following work zone speed limits unless they are seen by a Highway State Patrol officer. Many drivers are ignoring construction speed limits- increasing the danger of workers and other drivers on the road.
Some Ohio cities and counties are not waiting for National Highway Work Zone Awareness Week to encourage additional safety while driving through work zones. Last fall, Delaware County created a memorial in recognition of all the road workers killed while working within the past few years. The memorial recognized over 1400 workers, including a man who died in 2012 when he was struck by a tractor trailer and another man who died in 2013 while operating a backhoe near the side of an Ohio highway, the Toledo Blade reports. [September 2013, http://toledoblade.typepad.com/roadwarrior/2013/09/work-zone-crash-memorial-displayed-on-ohio-turnpike-through-next-week.html]
The personal injury attorneys at Wright & Schulte LLC continue to work with people who are injured in work related accidents. If you have been injured on the job contact Wright & Schulte LLC to speak with one of our experienced attorneys that can help with all your questions. Call 1-800-399-0795 or visit www.yourohiolegalhelp.com.