State plea targeted at Ohio drivers

Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Roadside workers in Ohio are pleading with drivers to keep them safe.
Saturday marks Move-Over-Day.

Its focus is to remind drivers to move over and slow down.

The effort is part of a multi-state campaign that includes social media messaging with the hashtags #MoveOverMonday and #MoveOverOhio.

ODOT worker Mike Valko can tell you road construction work is dangerous. Nearly 20 years with the agency and he’ll never forget picking up cones in a construction zone along Market Street. He looked up and saw a car coming right at him. His life became a game of inches.

“Bounced the arrowboard off the side and I just yelled, ‘Look out!” And he proceeded to take out the cones that were left,” Valko said.

The driver narrowly missed Valko and his co-workers. He was caught down the street.

“The kid had no idea, no clue what he did. The first thing everybody wants to think of is either drunk, medicated, and OSP came up to us and said he’s a bad driver,’ Valko said.

More than 130 digital signs message boards will be out Saturday to remind drivers that the law says you must move over for all vehicles with flashing lights. If you can’t move over, you have to slow down.

Joseph Kusior drives Interstate 680 every day to work at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Youngstown. His father works for ODOT. Kusior has seen drivers speed and looking at their phones while he knows his dad is working along the road.

“It’s ignorant. You should really take care and caution of other people,” he said.

Kusior wants drivers to know that those workers along the road could be someone’s father, son, or daughter and that failing to follow the law could lead to devasting news for someone’s family.

“It takes you maybe five seconds to get into another lane, so why not do it to prevent taking someone else’s life,” he said.

According to a new crash analysis from ODOT, 546 crashes have occurred so far in 2021 when drivers failed to move over or slow down for a stationary vehicle with flashing lights. This has caused 21 deaths and 59 serious injuries. Between 2015 and 2020 a total of 5,561 move-over-related crashes occurred in Ohio.

Trumbull County had the most crashes, locally, at three times higher than Mahoning County.

The death of a AAA tow provider, Glenn Ewing, 32, highlights how dangerous it is for those who work regularly along the shoulders of Ohio’s roads. Ewing was killed while placing a disabled vehicle on the back of a flatbed near Cincinnati on July 4, 2021.

“The men and women who work on our roads have a simple request for drivers: ‘Help us get home safe at the end of the day.’ Moving over and slowing down allows them to do that,” said ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks.

A survey conducted by The Ohio State University found gaps in Ohioans’ knowledge of the state’s Move Over law, especially when it comes to construction crews and tow trucks.

Startling new data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds:

  • Nearly a quarter (23%) of drivers are unaware of their state’s Move Over law.
  • In addition, 42% of drivers who do not comply with Move Over laws at all times said they thought their behavior was somewhat or not dangerous at all to roadside emergency workers.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have a Move Over Law to protect individuals on the roadside. Ohio’s law requires all drivers to move over and slow down for any vehicle parked on the side of the road with flashing lights, no matter the color of the lights or the number of lanes.

Those who do not comply with Ohio’s Move Over Law can be charged and fined, and the law is strictly enforced.

In fact, in 2020, the Ohio State Highway Patrol issued 7,829 citations for those failing to move over or slow down. So far this year, there have been 3,576 citations issued.

The Move Over law protect law enforcement, too. On Sept. 4, 2021, a vehicle struck Sergeant Fernando Chavez’s Ohio State Highway Patrol car while he was completing a traffic stop on the shoulder of U.S. Route 24 in Defiance County. Sergeant Chavez sustained non-life-threatening injuries, but the passenger in the vehicle that struck him died, and the driver sustained life-threatening injuries.

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