CLEVELAND (WJW)– The Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio State Highway Patrol are working together in a new statewide effort to increase the safety of work zones through targeted aerial enforcement.
“What’s so unique about this particular project is the fact that we’re using technology that we normally haven’t used in order to combat a specific crash causing violation,” said Sgt. Ray Santiago.
State patrol will enforce traffic violations from the air on state Route 8 in Summit County near Steels Corners and Seasons Road.
ODOT announced nearly a dozen locations were chosen across the state based on history of crashes, higher speeds and the kinds of barriers used to keep traffic separated from workers. Troopers will look for speed violations, failure to move over and following too closely, among other behaviors.
“By using the airplanes they’re able to radio down and let troopers know on the ground where some of these violations are occurring, which vehicles are causing it and kind of be in a better position to take enforcement action when needed,” said Sgt. Santiago.
Traffic volumes were down 50 percent across the state because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to ODOT in April. Since then, traffic has rebounded, hovering at 15 percent below normal traffic volumes.
“Overall, we are seeing a lot more crashes in our work zone than we would have expected with the traffic volumes that are out on the road,” said Amanda McFarland, the Northeast Ohio Public Information Officer for ODOT. “To date, there have been more than 3,100 work zone crashes throughout Ohio and that is just, it’s just too many.”
According to ODOT, last year there were more than 6,500 work zone crashes. However, this year the amount of deaths in those zones is close to surpassing the year before, according to Ohio State Highway Patrol.
“Right now, year to date, we’re at 14 work zone-related fatalities. All of last year there were 15 so that’s alarming because right now we’re on pace to top that number,” said Sgt. Santiago.
ODOT said signs would be posted alerting drivers about increased enforcement along the highway.
Depending on the results of the initiative the pilot project could be expanded for a future date.
“Hopefully, if nothing else it makes them (construction zone workers) feel a little more comfort in doing their job, knowing that there is additional support and they’re not alone and we’re doing our part to keep them safe,” said Sgt. Santiago.
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