The Ohio Department of Transportation is planning to invest $51 million in state and federal funds into new traffic safety improvements to address a steep increase in pedestrian-involved traffic crashes and fatal roadway departures on state and local roads.
[Above photo by the Ohio DOT]
That $51 million will support 44 roadway safety projects in 32 counties. Municipalities, townships, and counties will receive nearly $30 million, or 58 percent, of that funding, with the remainder funding safety projects on Ohio DOT-maintained roads and highways.
The agency noted that fatal crashes involving pedestrians and roadway departures both hit their highest levels in 2021 when compared to the previous decade.
“This is a serious problem, and we certainly believe that distracted driving is contributing to this alarming increase in pedestrian-involved and roadway departure crashes,” said Governor Mike DeWine (R) in a statement.
“The funding we’re awarding today, most of which is going to local governments, will be used to make the physical changes needed to help prevent crashes, but a cultural change around distracted driving is needed as well,” he added.
This traffic safety funding effort follows plans the governor unveiled in April to invest nearly $2 billion on 829 transportation projects across Ohio as part of the Ohio DOT’s construction season plan for 2022.
“A goal we share with our partners in local government is significantly reducing deaths on Ohio roads, so we must work together to get there,” said Ohio DOT Director Jack Marchbanks.
[Editor’s note: Marchbanks named Preeti Choudhary as executive director of Drive Ohio on May 9. A division of the Ohio DOT, DriveOhio works to ensure Ohio’s regulatory environment and public policies are conducive to the development of the infrastructure and technologies needed for smart mobility.]
The Ohio DOT specifically plans to invest in roadway-departure prevention projects as part of this safety investment effort – projects such as widening roadway shoulders, installing center and edge-line rumble strips, and modifying ditches and culverts.
Incidents of drivers leaving the travel lane and sideswiping another vehicle, hitting an oncoming vehicle, or colliding with an object on the side of the road typically cause more than half of all traffic deaths and nearly half of all serious traffic injuries in Ohio each year. In 2021, Ohio DOT said 703 people died and 3,390 seriously hurt in roadway departure crashes.
Because crashes involving pedestrians are more common on roadways that lack dedicated infrastructure such as sidewalks, paths, and marked crossings, Ohio DOT said it also plans to invest in pedestrian projects like sidewalks, high-visibility pedestrian crossings, and road “diets” to reduce the number and width of traffic lanes to prompt drivers to slow down.