By Frank Lewis
December 13, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
Since 2008, more than 600 collisions occurred between the travelling public and Ohio Department of Transportation vehicles and equipment. One such incident in April of 2013 resulted in the death of 27-year-old Lee Rizor, a father of two and five-year veteran of ODOT’s workforce. Just 15 months earlier, a similar tragedy occurred on the Ohio Turnpike when a tractor trailer plowed into a maintenance crew in rural Fremont, killing John Fletcher who had worked for the Turnpike for 28 years, and seriously injuring two other employees.
Due to the extent of their injuries, neither of these Turnpike workers have been able to resume their employment.
On Wednesday the Ohio General Assembly passed Senate Bill 137, which is designed to protect the safety of construction and maintenance workers operating on Ohio roadways.
The new version of Ohio’s “Move Over Law” requires motorists to slow down and, as conditions permit, shift to an adjacent lane when approaching construction, maintenance and public utilities commission vehicles that are parked on the roadside with flashing, oscillating or rotating lights. Under the previous law, motorists were required to do so only when approaching police and other emergency vehicles, including tow trucks.
ODOT officials and the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission partnered in the legislative effort to provide their respective agencies’ roadway workers appropriate protection while performing their duties.
“A cornerstone of ODOT’s mission is the safety of all who drive on or work on Ohio’s roads,” Jerry Wray, ODOT director, said. “The expanded Move Over Law is a critical step to improving the safety of our workers, who risk their lives and well-being every day to care for the excellent transportation system the citizens of Ohio have come to expect. We at ODOT are tremendously grateful to Governor Kasich and the General Assembly for acting to protect our people.”
“I’m proud of the work that our roadway employees do on a daily basis, under very dangerous conditions,” Ohio Turnpike Executive Director Richard Hodges said. “It is because of their work in maintaining the road that the Ohio Turnpike is consistently rated as the best toll road in the entire nation. As an agency, we continually do what we can to create the safest possible work conditions for our employees. We greatly appreciate the leadership of Governor Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly in standing up for our employees through the expansion of Ohio’s ‘Move Over Law.’”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.