PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — With all the road projects underway throughout the summer, it can be dangerous for construction workers.
They’re often just feet from speeding cars and are at risk of being hit or run over. PennDOT has now come up with a new way to keep an eye on drivers and try to slow them down.
If you’re a construction worker trying to make a living, you have no choice but to put in your hours a few feet away from traffic whizzing by, oblivious to your presence.
“They are in danger on a daily basis,” senate bill co-sponsor Sen. Jay Costa said.
“Just last week, we had an incident where a motorist drove through our work zone and did not see our flagger,” PennDOT Dist. 11 executive Dan Cessna said.
Signs alerting drivers to work zone speed limits and their current speed tend to slow drivers a bit, but only a bit.
“They do not effectively reduce driver speed through our work zones,” Cessna said.
The resulting accidents in work zones tend to be intense. In Allegheny County alone in the last five years, there have been 1,167 work zone accidents and 11 deaths. Both numbers have been on the rise.
On the Pennsylvania Turnpike just last year, there were 394 work zone accidents, with more than 6,200 construction zone citations being issued.
“It’s a major concern,” Costa said. “Too many accidents, too many deaths contributed to folks driving recklessly in these work zones, and that’s what we’re trying to change.”
So the legislature is now considering a law that will put speed-monitoring cameras in work zones. There will be multiple warnings, and if you’re still doing more than 11 miles per hour over the work zone speed limit…
“You’ll realize it when you get a citation in the mail for $100,” Costa said.
“We only think it can help,” Cessna said. “Where it’s been done in other states, it’s proved to be very effective.”
Word of mouth is powerful and when the cameras started sending citations in Maryland, that state saw an 85 percent reduction in work zone speeding over a five-year period with the cameras in place.
In Pennsylvania, the five-year pilot program could generate about $33 million in fines, but everyone emphasizes it’s not about the money.
“It’s all about safety, period,” Cessna said.