Use caution around road construction

With spring, we see new beginnings – flowers bloom, trees receive their buds and vibrant green returns to our lawns.

But something also begins with the onset of spring – road construction.

According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, some 87 projects are scheduled to take place in 2014 in District 11, which encompasses a 7-county region that includes Columbiana County.

Within our county, 15 projects totaling some $27 million are on docket, including slide repair work in Salineville and Lisbon, lighting upgrade in Wellsville, bridge replacement in Negley, and road resurfacing in West Point.

In addition, local projects include road resurfacing in St. Clair Township and East Liverpool as well as guardrail reconstruction throughout various parts of the county.

All told, more than 2,000 work zones will take place this summer on Ohio roadways.

With that, we urge all motorists to be vigilant in and around these sites, both for your own safety and that of others.

The statistics prove the worth of using caution.

Last year, 4,373 work zone crashes took place in the Buckeye State of which 1,118 were injury-related resulting in 19 fatalities. From 2008-12, ODOT vehicles and equipment were struck 590 times by passing vehicles – and 359 of those failed to move over.

Not obeying the rules of the road, always is dangerous, and especially when construction zones are involved.

To attempt to improve safety, ODOT not only is increasing law enforcement presence in these work zones, but also has added some more meat to the state’s “Move Over Law.”

The law requires motorists to cautiously shift over one lane – or slow down if changing lanes is not possible – when passing any vehicle with flashing lights on the side of the road. Fines will be assessed if the law is violated, doubled in work zones.

The law actually has been on the books since 2004, established to reduce risk to law enforcement, emergency responders and tow operators. It was expanded in December 2013, to apply to any stationary vehicle with flashing lights, including road construction, maintenance and utility crews.

“Increasing public awareness of the penalty …. will save lives,” says Richard Hodges, executive director of the Ohio Turnpike & Infrastructure Commission. “The penalty is strong outside of work zones and it’s doubled inside work zones.”

Again, we urge all motorists to be cautious at all times. Yes, obeying traffic laws will save you money, but more importantly it will save lives.