Senate Highway Worker Safety Legislation Clears House Committee

Bill Heads to Full House Chamber for Vote

Harrisburg – October 27, 2015 – Legislation aimed at strengthening penalties and increasing fines for distracted and aggressive driving in work zones has been approved by the House Transportation Committee, according to the bill’s sponsors, Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-43) and Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46).

The legislation, Senate Bill 887, which passed the Senate in June, toughens penalties for drivers who endanger or kill a highway worker or first responder in a construction zone. The bill also broadens the scope of those considered “highway workers” to include emergency personnel, local government and municipal workers, members of the Pennsylvania State Police, law enforcement, contractors or utility company workers.

“Today’s vote by the House committee was another important step in protecting our highway workers and first responders. A vote for this bill is a vote in favor in saving lives,” Costa said. “There isn’t a text, an email or a phone call that is more important than the lives of those working in construction zones. Slow down, pay attention and you’ll save a life.

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.

“The consequences of distracted and aggressive driving in work zones can be catastrophic and the penalties in this legislation are intended to be a deterrent,” Bartolotta said. “Construction workers on road and bridge projects risk being involved in an accident every day and it is the General Assembly’s responsibility to ensure adequate precautions are established to ensure safety of these work zones.”

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.

The bill cleared the committee unanimously, and will now be considered by the full House of Representatives.

Stacey Witalec, Senator Jay Costa

Colleen Greer, Senator Camera Bartolotta