Stay alert, safe around highway work areas

As state and local communities roll out the orange barrels for road and bridge work, drivers have to realize construction zones are dangerous places.

The Ohio Department of Transportation reported there were 6,041 crashes last year in work zones resulting in 28 deaths, 186 serious injuries and 810 minor injuries. There has been an increase in traffic deaths during the past three years.

This year, ODOT will invest $2.3 billion into the state’s roads and bridges, just shy of the record $2.4 billion investments made in 2014 and 2015.

Workers will pave 6,945 miles of roadway – enough for a two-lane road from Seattle to Key West, Fla., and repair or replace 1,281 bridges.

Everyone is on a tight schedule and in a hurry to get from here to there. That is until driving up to a construction zone. Riding right behind the bumper of the vehicle in front won’t result in a quicker trip through the work zone.

Traffic is slowed in a construction zone for a reason. Construction vehicles are pulling onto and off the highway. There are workers and heavy equipment operating sometimes just feet from the open lanes of travel.

Drivers have to be alert when traveling through a work zone. That means allowing enough distance between vehicles so a sudden stop can be made without a wreck.

Pay close attention to the instructions of flaggers and construction zone signs that warn or advise a motorist of what to expect in the work zone.

Remember, speeding violations can be very costly in a construction zone.

Everyone complains about the condition of area roads and bridges, but work is under way to make repairs.

Patience and safe driving go hand in hand with summer road construction season.