Orange work zone barrels are appearing all around us, and while construction projects can often cause traffic delays, we remind everyone of the importance of driving safely in construction zones.

This is the message shared once again across the country to remind drivers to be patient, slow down and be careful in road construction zones.

Work has already started in our region. City workers have been busy patching potholes and carrying out other repairs on city streets; traffic is limited to one lane on portions of National Route 7 north and south of Steubenville; and lane restrictions are in place on the Veterans Memorial Bridge. This is in addition to all the other work that is expected to take place in the tri-state area.

Statistics from across our region show just how dangerous workplace accidents can be.

Ohio, for example, recorded 4,796 workplace accidents in 2021, including 1,679 involving workers. These accidents left 1,759 injured and 29 dead. This includes the 20 workers who were injured and one who was killed. Ohio Department of Transportation workers, vehicles and equipment were hit 154 times last year, crashes that resulted in five injuries. These figures seem to be increasing this year – already more than 70 accidents have been reported.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, more than 1,600 work area accidents and 16 fatalities were reported in 2021. Over the past 52 years, 90 PennDOT employees have died on the job.

And, since 2017, West Virginia has seen 802 work area accidents involving injury and 1,266 property damage accidents. The state Department of Transportation added that there were 21 fatal accidents in work areas during this period.

It’s not just major construction projects that create security issues. State, county and local highway workers are often seen on the side of roads as they perform minor improvements. Throughout the region, traffic laws require motorists to travel in a lane reserved for all roadside workers. If they cannot move, drivers must slow down.

Everyone has a tight schedule and is in a rush to get from here to there, and that can make a construction zone frustrating. Driving just behind the bumper of the vehicle in front of you, however, will not result in faster travel.

Traffic slows down in construction zones for a reason. Construction vehicles often stop and exit highways, and here workers and heavy equipment sometimes operate within a few feet of open traffic lanes.

Drivers must be alert when crossing a work zone, which means leaving enough distance between vehicles so that a sudden stop can be made without a collision.

Flaggers and construction zone signs warn and inform motorists of what to expect in construction zones. Variable speed limits are used in some construction zones. Remember to heed all warnings and obey all posted speed limits – speeding in construction zones costs several times more than a regular ticket.

Area residents like to complain about the state of roads and bridges. We ask everyone to remember that work is underway to make the necessary repairs and improvements – and that patience and careful driving go hand in hand with the summer road construction season.

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