While the acceleration up of road construction and repair is great for cities and projects during the Coronavirus pandemic, it may not be better for workers. State highway officials are reporting a "severe spike in speeding" during the pandemic, crews across the nation are finding it's actually less safe for workers out there right now.
Emptier streets and highways have resulted in a "significant surge" in reports of drivers reaching speeds of 100 mph or more in major cities and even the less populated ones, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) said.
“This year, we have seen an alarming spike in crashes on our roadways and construction zones,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. “It’s important that we implement partnerships and technology like this to decrease roadway crashes, ensuring both motorists and construction employees make it home safely.”
With more than 6,500 work zone crashes in Ohio last year and increasing numbers this year, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is collaborating with the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) to make work zones safer through one such partnership.
As both workers and police know, enforcing traffic laws from the ground can be a challenge inside work zones, so State Troopers will be taking to the sky. ODOT and the OSHP Aviation Section have identified nearly a dozen locations in the state where troopers will target crash-causing violations like speed, following too close and failure to move over. ODOT says these locations were selected due to a history of crashes, higher speeds and the type of barrier used to separate traffic from workers.
“Work zone crashes are preventable if drivers slow down, increase following distance, and most importantly pay attention,” said Colonel Richard Fambro, superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “We continue to support work zone safety and make our presence known in an effort to provide a safe environment for our roadway workers.”
Signs posted along the highway will alert drivers about the increased enforcement efforts.
The pilot project will be evaluated and based on results could be expanded next year.