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Development & Transportation

PennDOT Tries for Safer Work Zones

PennDOT is stepping up its efforts to protect road crews in work zones with safety training and "Operation Yellow Jacket".

Steve Cowan, PennDOT District 11 Safety Press Officer, said road workers are being trained periodically by safety and county management staff on how to handle work zone violations. He said in District 11 (Allegheny, Beaver, and Lawrence County) there have been two training sessions in the last three months, but employees, in the past year, have not yet reported a violation to the police.

Recently, a district judge in Greene County (District 12, Westmoreland, Fayette, Washington and Greene County) upheld citations given to a driver after PennDOT employees reported the motorist nearly hit two workers and ignored signals to slow down. Based on information crews provided to the state police the motorist was stopped just two miles from the incident. Work zone violations can result in a 15 day license suspension if a driver is involved in a crash, or a license suspension if the driver is convicted of exceeding the speed limit by 11 mph or more.

Cowan says PennDOT has been working to make work zones safer, starting with "Operation Yellow Jacket" where "Pennsylvania State Police officers pose as PennDOT employees and run radar, trying to catch individuals speeding," said Cowan. "Normally when a person sees a police car at the beginning of a cue they tend to slow down. However, through 'Operation Yellow Jacket,' there is no police car. They're actually sitting in a PennDOT vehicle."

He says there are a few things that drivers should always do in work zones to keep from getting a citation. "Always be patient, please drive the posted speed limit, always stay alert, pay attention to signs and flaggers, turn on your headlights if instructed to do so, always avoid distractions, and expect the unexpected."