HARRISBURG – Governor Wolf recently signed bipartisan legislation authored by Senator David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) that aims to better protect construction workers along highways.
Senator Argall and Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks), teamed up with Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John C. Rafferty (R-Berks/Chester/Montgomery) to bring Senate Bill 172 to life after hearing reports from Berks County transportation officials about the hazardous conditions that highway construction workers face from speeding motorists.
“This whole issue started back in 2014 when Senator Schwank and I met with transportation leaders from Berks County” Argall said. “The problem is that too many motorists are speeding through these construction zones putting workers’ lives at risk. If you look at the statistics, we saw over 1900 crashes in work zones with 23 deaths across Pennsylvania in 2015, all because motorists couldn’t slowdown in active work zones. That’s an unacceptable statistic and we promised our constituents that we would help ensure the safety of those who work to build and maintain our infrastructure”.
According to statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, work zone crashes have been increasing at a rate of five percent annually since 2012.
Automated speed enforcement cameras (ASES) will be deployed in active work zones along federal aid highways under PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission’s jurisdiction. Motorists that exceed the speed limit by at least 11 mph when construction workers and an ASES are present will receive a written warning for the first offense, a $75 fine for the second offense and a $150 fine for third and subsequent offenses. Motorists who do not speed through these active work zones will not be impacted by this legislation.
This legislation was based on a law that previously passed in Maryland. Approximately seven percent of motorists in that state were found to exceed the stated speed limit in work zones by at least 12 mph. After legislation was passed placing speed cameras in work zones, the number of Maryland drivers exceeding the posted speed limit dropped to less than one percent.
Further commenting on his newly signed law, Senator Argall stated “this legislation has always been about changing driver behavior and making conditions safer for our highway workers. Now that SB 172 is law, I am certain that the troubling statistics I noted earlier will decline significantly. I thank Senator Schwank and Senator Rafferty for all their bipartisan support in making this legislation possible. I also want to thank all of our highway construction workers who work tirelessly to maintain our infrastructure, I’m hoping that this legislation will make you feel more secure as you carry out your day-to-day work.”