Orange Lights to Illuminate need for Safety in Ohio’s Work Zones ODOT reminds motorists to go “Slow in the Cone Zone”

COLUMBUS (April 7, 2008) – Concerned by the deaths of 14 motorists and more than 1,860 injures from accidents in state’s highway construction work zones last year, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is trying a new way to illuminate the need for safety – by casting several of its building across the state, including ODOT’s headquarters along I-70 in Columbus, in bright orange light.

Locally, the Ohio Department of Transportation District 1 building headquarters will be illuminated in orange as well as a portion of the GO Ethanol (Greater Ohio Ethanol) facility, both in Lima.

“We work in a dangerous industry. The safety of our workers and of the public we serve is priority in everything we do, every day,” said Tim Burkepile, Ohio Department of Transportation District 1 deputy director. “Orange is a color which represents safety for us as it designates our work zones. We hope people will observe the orange lighting and remember that work zone safety is their responsibility as well,” he said.

“Safety is job one here at the plant,” said Greg Kruger, president and CEO of GO Ethanol. With 640,000 safe hours logged in the construction of the plant and six months with no lost-time injuries during operator training, Kruger says their commitment to safety is evident. “We begin each meeting with a safety reminder. Participating with the Ohio Department of Transportation in their efforts to highlight the importance of safety is a natural partnership for us,” he said.

With the reminder to go Slow for the Cone Zone, ODOT is partnering with members of the Ohio Contractors Association to recognize National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week, running April 7-11.

“Last year, there were 5,418 work zone crashes on our state highway system,” said ODOT Director James Beasley. “While that number is lower than the previous year, it is still important for drivers to stay alert, be patient and go Slow for the Cone Zone, for their safety as much as for the safety of our construction crews.”

Nationally, there is one work zone injury every nine minutes and one work zone fatality every 8.7 hours. Eighty-five percent of those fatalities are drivers or passengers.

In addition to illuminating many of the department’s buildings in orange light throughout the week, ODOT is placing 14 construction cones at locations across the state to remember those 14 individuals who lost their lives in work zone crashes in 2007.

“There are a lot of variables in work zones - the cones, signs, equipment and workers,” said Director Beasley. “With reduced speed limits, traffic lane shifts, and people working on or near the road, it’s important to slow down and be aware of your surroundings for everyone’s safety.”