Orange cones wearing ODOT workers’ vests and hard hats now stand in the grass at the I-70 westbound rest area in Belmont County.
They are an effective reminder that this is Work Zone Safety Month, and that every year, highway workers lose their lives, just doing their jobs.
The 28 cones represent the 28 workers killed last year in Ohio construction zones.
ODOT held an event involving everyone from law enforcement to elected officials to highway workers.
That rest area is the site of the highway workers’ memorial monument.
That, plus the cones draped with vests and hard hats, provided a powerful message.
“Each one of those represents a person who’s not going to be able to go home to their families in the evening, so that’s why we want people just to be aware of the work zones,” said Roxanne Kane, ODOT District 11 deputy director, “When you see work zones, watch for our workers.”
“I think people just need to slow down,” noted Joe Thompson, ODOT employee. “That’s the biggest thing. When you come into a work zone and see flashing lights or orange barrels or cones, just slow down.”
“Hitting cones is a big thing we see,” added Jamie Detling, ODOT employee. “And people going too fast through work zones, even contractors’ work zones.”
“We strictly enforce the Move Over Law,” said Lt. James Faunda, post commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “It requires motorists to move to a different lane or greatly reduce their speed when they’re passing highway workers.”
Initially, the Move Over Law only required people to pull over for emergency vehicles on the berm of the road.
But now, drivers are required to move away from any motorist that’s stranded along the berm.
People at the rest area signed a pledge posted on the wall, promising to pay attention and slow down in work zones.