Number of ODOT workers hit in construction zones continues to rise

So far in 2021, workers have been hit by motorists 60 times in work zones

Number of ODOT workers hit in construction zones continues to rise

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Despite fewer vehicles being out on the road, due to the pandemic, the number of construction workers getting hit continues to climb in Ohio.

According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, ODOT crews were struck 125 times in 2020.

It’s a somber reminder to motorists, with National Work Zone Awareness Week starting Wednesday.

There were 4,536 work zone crashes in Ohio in 2020. Of those, 18 crashes were fatal and 96 resulted in serious injuries.

Aaron Saplak, a project engineer for ODOT, has seen some of those crashes firsthand.

“We had somebody drive their car next to our work area, smash the car, get out of the way, and drive off. They didn’t even care,” Saplak told 19 News.

The latest work zone crash happened in Cleveland on Sunday. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, a Wellington an off-duty police officer was working security detail in a construction zone on I-90 east near I-490. The officer was inside their cruiser when the vehicle was hit by a a suspected impaired driver.

“You’ll see people drive over the skinnier cones. They’ll get smashed under the car and they’ll just keep driving,” Saplak said.

According to ODOT, two routes with some of the highest numbers of work zone crashes run right through our area: I-80 and I-71.

Saplak said distracted driving plays a big role. He said around a third of drivers he sees pass by him are on their cell phones.

Ohio State Highway Patrol is watching closely to catch drivers not obeying work zone signs.

In 2020, over 7300 citations were given out in work zones across the state. Nearly half involved drivers going at least 20MPH over the speed limit.

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