Recent crashes put workers, motorists at risk
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is reminding motorists to drive safely in work zones after there have been several incidents of work zone intrusions resulting in motorists hitting PennDOT employees or equipment.
The most recent crash occurred on June 5th, when a PennDOT employee was struck by a motorist while working on a bridge resurfacing project in Allegheny County. The employee suffered injuries requiring medical attention and transportation to a hospital.
“Work zones may be a temporary inconvenience, but these workers all deserve to get home safely,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “Please slow down and never drive distracted, especially in work zones where roadway conditions can change every day.”
According to PennDOT data, in 2021 there were 1,649 work zone crashes, resulting in 16 fatalities. Additionally, since 1970, PennDOT has lost 90 workers in the line of duty.
In addition to crash data from police reports, PennDOT monitors work zone safety with internal reports. From January 1st, 2020 to June 7th, 2022, there have been 300 reported intrusions in PennDOT work zones.
Of those work zone intrusions, 31 resulted in injuries to PennDOT employees, 66 caused damage to PennDOT equipment or vehicles only, and 203 did not result in injury or damage but had the potential to do so.
In Pennsylvania, there are two distinct programs related to active work zones. Under Title 75, Section 3326, motorists caught by police driving 11 mph or more above the posted speed limit in an active work zone, or who are involved in a crash in an active work zone and are convicted for failing to drive at a safe speed, automatically lose their license for 15 days. Additionally, fines for certain traffic violations – including speeding, driving under the influence, and failure to obey traffic devices – are doubled for active work zones. The law also provides for up to five years of additional jail time for individuals convicted of homicide by vehicle for a crash that occurred in an active work zone.
Under Title 75, Section 3369, fines are allowed to be administered through the Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement (AWZSE) program. Pennsylvania’s AWZSE program, first implemented in March 2020, uses vehicle-mounted systems to detect and record motorists exceeding posted work zone speed limits by 11 mph or more using electronic speed timing devices. AWZSE systems are only operational in active work zones where workers are present. Work Zones that have an AWZSE system present and active will have unique signs in advance of the enforcement area, alerting drivers to the upcoming enforcement. Registered owners receive a warning letter for a first offense, a violation notice and $75 fine for a second offense, and a violation notice and $150 fine for third and subsequent offenses. These violations are civil penalties only; no points are assessed to driver’s licenses.
For more information on work zone safety visit, www.PennDOT.pa.gov/Safety. For more information on the Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement program, including a list of projects where the units are deployed, visit https://workzonecameras.penndot.gov/.