LONDON, OH (WCMH) — Flashing emergency lights alongside Ohio roadways means, by law, you need to either move over a lane or slow down.
In the last few years, first responders, road crews and tow truck drivers have all been hit and killed working along Ohio roadways.
An ongoing campaign called ‘Slow Down or Move Over’ reminds drivers that hitting and or killing anyone working along Ohio’s roadways will change forever the lives of all the families involved. Something officials said can be prevented.
Those who work around busy roadways like first responder or road crew can tell you about how it feels to have vehicles flying by, just feet away.
“It puts the fear of God in you,” said Jack Marchbanks, Deputy Director for the Ohio Department of Transportation. Marchbanks is in charge of eight local counties, including Franklin.
He said working around traffic means keeping focused on your jobs, while being aware of dangers around you.
“It is kind of controlled chaos when we are on a traffic stop,” said Sgt. Anthony Pearcy, with the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
So why do people put themselves in those dangerous work environments?
“We do it because we care. We go out there and we have a purpose,” Sgt. Pearcy said. Marchbanks said roadways and vegetation require consistent maintenance.
First responders and ODOT workers said the effects from passing traffic is enormous.
“You feel the wind – the wind blast and you often feel the gravel and grit flying by,” Marchbanks said.
Pearcy said two simple things could be the difference between life and death.
“Paying attention and not being distracted is extremely important,” said Sgt. Pearcy.
Ohio Trooper Kenneth Velez was killed two weeks ago, while checking speeds on Interstate 90.
Three years ago an Lee Rizor, an ODOT worker, was killed after the driver of an 18-wheeler crashed into his backhoe working along Interstate 71 in Delaware County.
Both drivers were charged in those deaths.
Traffic fines can be doubled if you are ticketed for not yielding in a work zone. Getting two tickets within one year can cost you as much as $1,000.