The signs read “work zone...reduce speed," but some Pennsylvania drivers are failing to get the message.
Three state senators have introduced legislation aimed at creating safer work zones on highways within the commonwealth.
The bills would raise fines and place cameras within active construction zones, according Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny).
Costa’s bill, specifically aimed at increasing fines and penalties, would require a one-year license suspension and $10,000 fine to any driver who kills a highway worker or first responder in a work zone.
The bill would also increase the current fine by $1,000 for minor violations. The fine for more serious offenses involving workers or first responders would be raised by $5,000 and accompanied by a six month license suspension. Costa said the legislation is “a renewed commitment” to the families of highway workers.
“Far too often, vulnerable workers and first responders in construction zones are ignored by motorists,” Costa said. “We have to remember that these are not just employees reporting to work each day — they are somebody’s mother, father, sibling or friend.”
Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks) is proposing a bill along with Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill) that would place cameras in active construction zones on interstate highways, in an attempt to identify drivers who speed.
“If a vehicle is traveling twelve miles above speed limit, then it would trigger that photo being taken,” Schwank said. “This is not a revenue raiser. Notices would have to be placed on [the] PennDOT, and on all the turnpike websites, where the cameras are operating.”
If caught speeding by a camera, the owner of the vehicle, not the driver, would face a $100 administrative fine. It would not result in any points, nor would it show up on anyone’s driving record.
There have been 128 deaths in construction zones over the past five years, according to Schwank.
“This includes innocent motorists,” Schwank said, “But it also includes many of the construction workers whose lives were lost because we were in a hurry, because drivers were just driving too fast in a construction zone.”
The legislation follows a recent series of construction zone incidents.
“Too many construction workers have been sent to the hospital in recent weeks,” said Sean Logan, chairman of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. “Motorists simply aren’t getting the message.”