COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Monday marks the start of National Work Zone Awareness Week, and state leaders are again reminding Ohio drivers to use extra caution in works zones to keep both themselves, and road workers safe.

Just last year, there were over 4,600 work zone related crashes, resulting in 23 deaths in Ohio. “After Alex passed away, one of his former classmates said, ‘He was one of the most kind people I have ever met,” recalls Dana King, as she fights through tears.

Alex King was just 21-years-old. He loved to fish and had big plans for his life. “He was a light. You know, you just couldn’t help but love him,” his mother describes. A light that Dana says burned out too soon, when her son was killed in a work zone crash near Cincinnati in 2021.

“You know, in a matter of minutes he was gone. But, he left an impression on everybody he met,” she adds. Alex was one of 29 work zone-related fatalities in 2021. It’s for him, and other road workers, that state and local leaders are recognizing National Work Zone Awareness Week.

At a kick-off event on Monday, Lt. Governor John Husted issued an urgent reminder to drivers about Ohio’s ‘Move Over Law.’ “It’s the law, but it’s also your responsibility as somebody who cares about your fellow man and woman in this world,” Husted urged.

Since 2018, there have been more than 26,000 work zone related crashes in the state — with workers present in over one-third of them. A sobering statistic for leaders and advocates who say crashes like these are almost always avoidable.

“Slow down. It’s not worth the hurry. There are real lives involved, these are family members out there everyday who are working,” Husted reminds. Earlier this month, Ohio’s new ‘Distracted Driving Law’ went into effect — which now makes things like texting and driving a primary offense.

And though the latest legislation won’t bring Alex and others back like him back, leaders say it’s a crucial step in making Ohio’s roads safer for everyone. “It’s mostly about awareness. It’s mostly about helping people understand you’re not allowed to do this because it’s unsafe, for you and for everybody else on the road.”

To go along with Ohio’s new Distracted Driving Law, the state also launched a website to educate Ohio drivers about the law and help raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.