June 6, 2016With the start of the 2016 summer driving season, Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) officials, and Ohio-affiliate the Ohio Contractors Association (OCA), urge motorists to stay alert while driving through work zones.
In 2015, there were 6,103 work zone crashes in Ohio. Nearly one of every four work zone crashes in the state, 1,455 (24 percent), resulted in injuries. Of those work zone injury crashes, 188 people suffered serious injuries and 30 people died – the vast majority of the fatalities, 28 (94 percent), involved the traveling public.
According to a new national work zone study conducted and released prior to the Memorial Day Weekend by the AGC, 39 percent of highway contractors reported that motor vehicles had crashed into their construction work zones in 2015. Noting that highway workers are in danger and drivers and passengers face an even higher risk of being hurt or killed in work zone crashes.
Randy Martin, safety director of the Beaver Excavating Company in Canton, and chairman of the OCA Safety Committee, said that typically, 80 percent of those injured or killed in construction work zone accidents are the traveling public.
“We are greatly concerned about the safety and wellbeing of our workers who are exposed to the hazards of live traffic and particularly, distracted drivers during each of their working days,” Martin said. “Most of the injuries and fatalities that do occur on our projects are the traveling public.”
He said that Ohio’s contractors work closely with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to ensure that construction work zones are designed and maintained to the highest safety standards for the protection of both workers and the traveling public.
As the peak summer travel times draw near, Martin encouraged drivers to remember three, simple, live-saving rules in work zones: “Slow down. Pay attention. Put your phone away!”
Martin also confirmed what contractors and their workers already know: Having positive barriers – including Jersey barriers – between workers and moving traffic can save lives and prevent injuries. Yet the Obama Administration has yet to implement a barrier funding requirement that was included in the most-recent surface transportation law from 2015.
“Plastic cones or barrels are no match for a speeding vehicle, and it shouldn’t take a needless fatality to figure that out,” said Martin. He added that the OCA and its national affiliate organizations are urging the administration to move forward on requiring and funding safety barriers for highway projects as quickly as possible.
Martin also stated that the OCA Safety Committee will continue working in close partnership with ODOT to study, implement and evaluate new and better ways to slow down vehicular traffic and improve safety on Ohio’s highway construction projects.