Heed patrol’s sage advice: Move over and slow down


With summer officially starting this week, many of us are more than ready to rush headlong into the season of fast-paced outdoor fun and vacation travel.

As we do, however, it is important to remember that summertime is also prime time for repaving and other improvement work on city streets, county roads and interstate highways. The summer months also rank as the No. 1 season for traffic accidents and fatalities, many of them in those road-work zones and in areas where other vehicles sit idle on the side of the roadway.

That’s why cautious, careful and commonsensical driving must rule the road – even in the absence of the natural wintry hazards of snow, sleet and ice.

And that’s why the Ohio Highway Patrol this month is stepping up its “Move Over, Slow Down” campaign to remind all motorists of the basics of the Move Over law in Ohio and in all other states of the union.

WHAT LAW SAYS

The law in Ohio, enacted in 2004 and expanded in 2009, requires all drivers to move over one traffic lane whenever approaching any vehicle with flashing or rotating lights parked on the roadside or in construction zones. If moving over is not possible due to traffic or weather conditions, or because a second lane does not exist, motorists should slow down and proceed with extreme caution. Failure to do so could land drivers with a misdemeanor conviction and hefty fines.

That advice and that law may seem all too commonsensical. Unfortunately, many motorists fail to take heed, sometimes with sobering consequences. Troopers from the Highway Patrol from 2012 through 2016 issued 12,169 citations across Ohio for violating the “move over” law.

And as John Picuri, ODOT District 4 deputy director, reminded attendees at a recent promotional event for the Move Over campaign in Austintown, over the past year alone, 19 workers were killed in roadside construction accidents. Among them was John Pasko, killed March 16 after an SUV traveling south on Interstate 680 hit him. Pasko was part of an ODOT brush-clearing crew under the Market Street Bridge.

According to ODOT’s website, these types of crashes kill one tow-truck driver every six days; 23 highway workers and one law-enforcement officer every month; and five firefighters a year.

Clearly, the stakes are high. That’s why all motorists should follow this vital Move Over-related advice from the OHP:

Don’t speed. Obey reduced speed limits in work zones. It takes less than a minute more to drive through a 2-mile work zone at 45 mph than at 65 mph. One of the most common causes of work-zone crashes is excessive speed.

Don’t tailgate. Most accidents in work zones are rear-end collisions.

Stay alert. Dedicate ull attention to the roadway. The traffic pattern in a work zone may be shifted, and lanes may be closed.

Watch for orange work-zone directional signs, obey flaggers, and be aware of workers and equipment that may be moving in a lane near you.

By seriously following such advice, motorists can go far toward preventing a minor short-term inconvenience from morphing into a major long-term tragedy.

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