DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Since 2017, the Ohio Department of Transportation says that nearly 26,000 crashes have occurred on Ohio roadways involving work zones, and 40% of those accidents have happened with workers on site. These shocking statistics are being highlighted this week for National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week.

“It’s been nearly 4,800 crashes in work zones in the last year across the state of Ohio. So again, these are way too many of these crashes that are occurring. These are mostly people who are driving too fast through work zones, following the vehicle in front of them too closely, or they’re just distracted. They’re not paying attention to what’s going on,” said ODOT Press Secretary Matt Bruning.

Bruning said that in the last year 30 fatalities have also occurred in Ohio work zones, with one victim having been contractor.

Dara Sorensen said she sees distracted drivers constantly, which is why she chooses to leave her phone in her purse on the ground while driving, as to not get tempted. “Pretty much every time I go out I see somebody who’s distracted, the light turns green and they’re just sitting there. Or, they’re going over the yellow line. Yeah, it’s very concerning,” said Sorensen.

The majority of the people either injured or killed in these crashes often results in the drivers themselves. “While we are always reminding people to keep our crews safe out on the roadways, we also want drivers to be safe,” said ODOT Regional Public Information Officer Mandi Dillon.

The accidents in work zones also hitting close to home right here in the Miami Valley. “We have had several crews hit in the past year. In fact, we just had one in the Clark County area, and we just had one in the Montgomery County area a few months ago,” said Dillon.

Bruning said that while this week highlights the need for safety when driving past work zones, the efforts to protect drivers and workers is truly a year round effort. “We’ve already had more than 70 crews struck here in the state of Ohio, our ODOT crews. That’s people, vehicles, and equipment. That compares to 154 all of last year. So, we’re in a really bad spot as far as statistics go this year,” said Bruning.

Bruning also encourages people who notice a distracted driver to contact the Ohio State Highway Patrol at #677.