COLUMBUS, Ohio — In the last 24 hours, three different vehicles from the Ohio Department of Transportation were hit in Columbus, raising a larger issue of work zone safety in the middle of National Work Zone Safety Week.
One of those vehicles was from ODOT’s Press Secretary Matt Bruning.
“I was just coming back from Columbus from a work zone event,” Bruning said.
"It was when he was heading west on the I-70 work zone when he was struck by another vehicle. The suspect then got out of his car and fled on foot.
Columbus police clocked the vehicle going 73 mph in a 45 mph work zone. Bruning said he’s glad he was hit, versus one of his workers, who he believes wouldn’t have survived those speeds.
“At those speeds in a work zone that is probably not a survivable crash if one of our people get hit,” Bruning said.
Overnight, two other ODOT vehicles were struck while sweeping I-71 near Morse Road. ODOT reps say this is yet another scary reminder of the risks encountered every day in work zones.
According to ODOT, statewide there have already been 71 agency vehicles hit so far this year. In 2021, that number was 154 for the year, and 125 in 2020.
“We just really need to get people to slow down, pay attention to what’s going on in those work zones, give those crews extra room to work, allow that extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you, and if we accomplish those simple things, we will dramatically reduce work zone crashes in Ohio,” said Bruning.
At the end of the day, Bruning says the responsibility is on the driver.
“They all have somebody they want to go home to at the end of the night, whether it’s friends or family, they have hobbies, they have a life outside of work. It’s not just a faceless thing outside on the road,” said Bruning.