Bipartisan Highway Worker Protection Bill Clears Senate

HARRISBURG – Reckless drivers who endanger the lives of highway workers and emergency personnel in work zones would face tougher penalties under legislation approved by the Senate today, according to the bill’s sponsors, Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46) and Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-43).

Senate Bill 887 would strengthen penalties for drivers who endanger or kill a highway worker in a construction zone due to distracted or aggressive driving.

“Although drivers already face slightly higher fines for speeding and aggressive driving in work zones, the troubling frequency of incidents that endanger highway workers suggests that these penalties are not effective in discouraging irresponsible behavior behind the wheel,” Bartolotta said. “It is my hope that enhancing these penalties to include extended license suspensions and significant fines will limit the dangers faced by highway workers and emergency personnel in the future.”

Under the bill, violators could face fines and penalties exceeding $1,000 for irresponsible driving in work zones. More serious offenses involving injuries to highway workers or emergency responders could result in a fine of up to $5,000 and a six-month suspension of the violator’s driver’s license. Drivers causing the death of a worker would pay a fine of up to $10,000 and surrender their license for one year.

Additionally, the legislation broadens the scope of “highway workers” to include emergency personnel, local government and municipal workers, members of the Pennsylvania State Police and law enforcement community, and contractors or utility company workers.

“I’m pleased that this important bill aimed at protecting highway workers and first responders has cleared the Senate, but our work is not finished,” Costa said. “A vote for this bill is a vote in favor in saving lives. Our highway workers and first responders deserve to see this legislation move quickly though the General Assembly and to the governor’s desk for his signature.”

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that approximately 100 workers are killed and another 20,000 workers are injured every year in highway and street construction accidents.

Senate Bill 887 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

CONTACT:    Colleen Greer (Bartolotta’s Office) 717-787-1463

Stacey Witalec (Costa’s Office) 717-787-7683

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