Ohio State Highway Patrol to begin air enforcement in work zones

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CLEVELAND (WJW)- The Ohio State Highway Patrol is set to begin air enforcement in work zones to track dangerous driving from the air.

The Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio State Highway Patrol are setting up air enforcement in about a dozen high-traffic work zones statewide, including on State Route 8 in Summit County.

“The goal is always to reduce traffic fatalities and crashes, in general,” said Ohio State Highway Patrol Sgt. Ray Santiago.

Highway Patrol fixed-wing aircraft with high-tech cameras will look for dangerous driving and track traffic speeds between painted road markings, and then radio violations down to troopers to make stops on the ground.

“Anything we can do to try to make those work zones safer, not just for our people but for the motorists who use them, we’re certainly going to do,” said ODOT spokesperson Matt Bruning.

The new initiative comes amid a spike in deadly work zone crashes, with fatalities up 40 percent compared with this time last year and 9,350 work zone crashes since 2019, according to Highway Patrol data.

ODOT said the top factor in crashes is drivers following others’ too closely.

“While have seen fewer vehicles on the road, unfortunately, we have seen more and more crashes, and really concerning to us, they’re in the work zones that we’re working in,” Bruning said.

Santiago said the highway patrol will use data to determine the best times for enforcement.

He reminded drivers to slow down, avoid distractions, and leave extra space in work zones and said the new effort aims to deter dangerous driving.

“If they obey those simple rules and traffic laws, we can provide those safer zones for our highway workers,” Santiago said.

Bruning said the pilot program is set to begin in the coming weeks and may be expanded to other work zones.

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