Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC), The Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC) and Flagger Force Traffic Control Services® hosted an event today to kick-off National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW). The event, held at PTC headquarters, highlighted the importance of work-zone safety across the commonwealth, shedding light on the increasing effects of distracted driving on work-zone employees and motorists.
Speakers included PTC Commissioner John N. Wozniak, PTC CEO Mark Compton, PTC Equipment Operator Mike Kates, Associated Pennsylvania Constructors Executive Vice President Robert Latham, Flagger Force President and CEO, Mike Doner and Flagger Force Field Specialist Jackie McVey. Each speaker shared experiences and important messages about the dangers of speeding and distracted driving through work zones. Attendees were encouraged to visit www.idriveorange.com to pledge to drive the posted speed limit in all work zones.
During his comments, Commissioner Wozniak — a former state senator who was chair of the Senate Transportation Committee — noted that there are catastrophic consequences when people choose to speed through work zones.
“As construction season starts, we remind drivers that we have real people working in highway construction zones — people like you who want to make it home to their families at the end of the day,” Wozniak said. “For the sake of our workers, we urge all motorists to obey the posted speed limit signs and be aware of the presence of workers.”
APC’s Latham noted that highway workers are laboring to make the commonwealth’s roads safer and smoother for travelers, and motorists can show workers their gratitude by slowing down and avoiding distractions while traveling through what is essentially someone’s workplace.
“Being a highway construction worker is an important but dangerous job. These are men and women are literally working inches from passing traffic, and we urge drivers to be cognizant of that,” Latham said. “The fact is that unsafe work-zone driving also impacts drivers and passengers too and that alone should be reason enough to ‘Drive Like You Work Here.’”
Mike Doner from Flagger Force, an industry-leader in temporary traffic control services across the Mid-Atlantic region, discussed how work zones are important to improving the aging infrastructure in our communities.
“Although work zones may seem like an inconvenience to your normal commute, they are necessary to keep our communities moving. When you see a work zone area, it means that your community’s infrastructure is improving,” Doner added, “In 2018, 97 percent of our employees reported witnessing distracted driving such as texting and driving or looking down to turn the radio dial, in their work zones. We want to urge all motorists to slow down and stay alert while driving their vehicles.”
Flagger Force field specialist Jackie McVey, who recently had a “near-miss” incident while actively monitoring a work zone in central Pennsylvania, shared her story, “I remember immediately thinking just how incredibly lucky I was. Had my colleague and I been just a couple steps forward we would have been struck by the car. I can’t imagine the impact that would have had on my one-year old son and his future.”
Turnpike CEO Compton reminded drivers of a new law that takes effect later this year allowing the PA Turnpike and PennDOT to conduct speed-enforcement operations inside work zones and maintenance (cone) patterns using automated speed-detection technology. He said the system will generate speeding violations to the registered owners of offending vehicles.
“Violation notices will be mailed to the registered owner if the vehicle is traveling 11 mph or more over the posted speed limit in a work zone,” Compton explained. “The first violation will be a written warning, the second will be a $75 fine and the third and all subsequent violations will be a $150 fine.”
National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) is an annual national campaign that is designed to encourage safe driving through work zones. This year’s theme is “Drive Like You Work Here.” Research shows in 2017, there were 132 national work zone fatalities, according to WorkZoneSafety.org.
For information about NWZAW and the event, visit FlaggerForce.com/Safety.