PennDOT Employees Busy; Be Wary in Local Work Zones

HARRISBURG PA – With construction work still being performed by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation or its contractors across parts of Lower Pottsgrove, Limerick, Valley Forge, and elsewhere, the state agency is urging drivers to exercise caution in work zones. So far this year, it said, three separate work zone intrusions resulted in motorists hitting a PennDOT crash truck.

Agency reporting also indicates that, through Nov. 10 (2020; Tuesday) there have been 72 reported intrusions in PennDOT work zones this year. Of those, it said, seven resulted in injures to state employees, 25 caused damage to its fleet or equipment, and 40 did not result in injury or damage but had the potential to do so.

“Construction season is winding down in many places,” Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Yassmin Gramian acknowledged, but added “we still have road crews out there. Please don’t speed,” she asked, “never drive distracted, and always buckle up, especially in work zones.”

Pennsylvania law states that anyone stopped by law enforcement for violating the posted speed limit by more than 5 miles per hour will face doubled fines. The fine is determined based on the amount the driver is traveling over the speed limit.

Governor Tom Wolf signed a law in 2016 that says any driver who causes serious bodily injury within a work zone could face up to $5,000 in fines and a six-month license suspension. A driver who causes a death within a work zone could face up to a $10,000 fine and one-year license suspension. Drivers who don’t turn on their headlights in posted work zones face a $25 fine.

In an effort to change unsafe driving behaviors in work zones, Pennsylvania’s Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement began earlier this year. The program uses vehicle-mounted electronic speed timing devices to detect and record motorists exceeding posted work zone speed limits by 11 miles per hour or more. The systems can be deployed in active work zones, where workers are present, on the turnpike as well as any active work zone on higher-class roadways like interstates, major arterials, and numbered routes.

Registered owners will receive a warning letter for a first offense, a violation notice and $75 fine for a second offense, and a violation notice and $150 fine for third and subsequent offenses. Violations are civil penalties only; no points will be assessed to driver’s licenses.

Work zone safety photo supplied by PennDOT