Legislation to Protect Construction Zone Workers Detailed

Harrisburg May 12, 2015 – After a recent series of accidents in construction zones, a bipartisan group of senators and state officials detailed legislation today that’s designed to protect workers in the zones.

Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) was joined by Sens. Judy Schwank (D-Berks), David Argall (R-Schuylkill), and Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington) in addition to PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Chair Sean Logan to discuss how the measures will improve safety in the construction zones.

The senators and state officials outlined their plan for increased penalties for those striking or killing highway employees and first responders in construction zones.

“Far too often vulnerable workers and first responders in construction zones are ignored by motorists focused on getting to their destination instead of heeding safety protocols,” Costa said.  “We have to remember that these are not just employees reporting to work each day – they are somebody’s mother, father sibling or friend.

“They each deserve the opportunity to leave work as safely as they arrived.”

The bills offered by Costa and Bartolotta would increase fines and penalties by $1,000 for minor violations and $5,000 for more serious offenses involving highway workers or first responders, plus a six month drivers license suspension.

“Too many construction workers have been sent to the hospital in recent weeks and too many turnpike employees killed over the years by speed and distraction in work zones,” Logan said.  “Motorists simply aren’t getting the message.

“The enforcement tools we have at our disposal today are not making enough of an impact.”

Bartolotta reflected on the impact of careless driving in many incidents and stressed the need for drivers to remain aware in their travels.

“We owe it to all of these workers and their families to do our part to protect them against reckless, irresponsible and distracted drivers,” she said.

With a focus on increased safety measures in work zones, legislation introduced by Schwank and Argall would provide speed cameras in active work zones on limited access highways.

“Families of the men and women who work to improve our roads can’t wonder if their moms or dads are going to return home from work every day,” Schwank said.  “Drivers must know that if they go too fast through a construction zone they will be hit in the wallet with a stiff fine,” Schwank said.

“The recent tragedy on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Bensalem reminds us that, as more state dollars are invested in improving our infrastructure, the problem facing our construction workers will only grow more dangerous,” Argall said.

Ensuring that work zones are safe places is a top priority for PennDOT, according to Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards.

“Since 1970, 85 PennDOT workers have been killed in the line of duty,” Richards said. “Our workers want to see their families at the end of their work days. Work zone safety awareness is essential, for your safety and ours.”

Contact: Stacey Witalec (717) 877-2997