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Construction zone safety on Ohio's highways

Last week we talked about how the reconstruction of Interstate 75 may reduce serious vehicle crashes and make the area safer. Construction zones can be a headache for drivers but the improvements that result are essential in the long run. During work, however, construction zones pose some unique safety issues for both workers and motorists.

The Ohio Department of Transportation designs construction zones to comply with state and federal guidelines for work zone safety. These include requirements for shoulder width, barrel placement and modified speed limits. Such guidelines minimize the risk of vehicle accidents and ensure that construction zones are designed for the safety of both workers and the motorists who must navigate them.

ODOT inspectors regularly check work zones to make sure these guidelines are met and contractors keep an eye on the area to make sure their crews are safe. A spokeswoman for the department said, "We are unable to account for driver behavior, but we do everything we can to make the zone as clear and safe as possible."

Driver behavior is a significant factor, though. Navigating lanes of construction cones and confusing signs can be difficult, even for experienced motorists. Since Jan, 2011, southwest Ohio's work zones have seen 1,143 crashes causing significant property damage and 396 crashes causing injury.

Speeding is the leading cause of construction zone accidents, especially when it involves following another car too closely, traveling at an unsafe speed for road conditions or traveling at normal speeds in a reduced-speed zone. Motorists should stay alert and proceed with caution, giving other cars adequate space and taking plenty of time.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a construction zone accident, consider speaking with a personal injury attorney.

Source: Dayton Daily News, "Malfunction Junction crashes down 90%," Dave Larsen, Sep. 6, 2012

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