The “Move Over Law” that took effect means drivers will need to approach construction and maintenance with the same caution as emergency vehicles on the roadside.
Gov. John Kasich recently signed the measure.
The law will apply when motorists approach construction, maintenance and public utilities commission vehicles parked on the side of the road with their alert lights turned on.
If drivers can’t move over because of traffic or safety issues, they should slow down until passing a road crew.
Violators will receive warnings instead of citations over the next three months. After that, they could be cited with a minor misdemeanor Penalties could increase if the driver has had multiple infractions within a year.
The directors of the state Department of Transportation and the Ohio Turnpike have said the measure would boost safety for roadway workers.
The Department of Transportation says motorists have had more than 600 collisions with its vehicles and equipment since 2008. In one case last April, a 27-year-old employee was killed.
Amy Fletcher, whose husband was killed in February 2012 on the turnpike, told The Blade it was hard to know if the law could have prevented the fatal crash.
“There are many things that need to be done,” she said. “Driver attention is one of the most important issues to keep them safe out there. It doesn’t matter how many flashing lights, cones, barrels, or miles of warning you give drivers, if the driver isn’t paying attention, the risk still exists. There is more to be done to respect workers”
Her husband, Forest Fletcher, 53, died when a truck driver plowed into a road crew. Two other workers were seriously injured and still have not returned to their jobs.
The truck driver pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and was sentenced to 60 days in jail while also losing his commercial driver’s license for five years.