By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item
SUNBURY — As construction cones pop up across the Valley, state Department of Transportation officials are asking drivers to be extra cautious through work zones as part of the observance of National Work Zone Awareness Week this week.
“Drivers should be extremely vigilant and concentrate 100 percent on the activity of driving when traveling through work zones,” said David Thompson, traffic safety press officer for PennDOT’s Region 3. “That means avoiding distractions, driving at the posted work zone speed limit and obeying traffic signs and the directions of flaggers. ... Motorists should expect the unexpected in work zones.”
Statewide last year there were more than 1,800 crashes in work zones resulting in 21 fatalities, most of whom were motorists, Thompson said.
“With that in mind, it’s in the best interest of everyone to ‘think safety’ in work zones,” he said. “Each and every person, whether they are working in a work zone or driving through a work zone, is significant. They have family, friends and co-workers who care about them, and PennDOT wants them to be able to return home safely each day.”
In addition to the safety implications, drivers caught violating traffic laws in active work zones can face stiff penalties, Thompson said.
According to Pennsylvania law, fines for certain traffic violations, such as speeding and driving under the influence, are doubled in active work zones. Motorists cited for driving 11 mph or more over the posted speed limit or involved in a crash and convicted of driving at an unsafe speed in an active work zone automatically lose their licenses for 15 days. People convicted of homicide by vehicle for a crash in an active work zone can face up to five additional years of jail time.
“When driving through a work zone, patience is indeed a virtue,” Thompson said.
Major construction projects are taking place in several spots across the Valley, including along Route 45 (Chestnut Street) in Mifflinburg; Route 54 in Danville; Route 11 in Point Township, outside of Northumberland; and at the green steel truss bridge on Route 522 over Penns Creek at Selinsgrove.