Police and other highway and safety officials have been pleading with motorists for years to slow down while driving through work zones.
Last week, they introduced some new technology that might finally get the attention of those who continue to ignore the warnings.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the state Turnpike Commission, in partnership with the Pennsylvania State Police announced the statewide “Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement” pilot program, which will lead to full implementation early next year.
The program involves the deployment of vehicle-mounted speed timing systems that can detect and record motorists exceeding posted work zone speed limits by 11 miles per hour.
They will be set up in active work zones where construction workers are present.
“The Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement program isn’t about issuing violations, it’s about saving lives,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “Last year, 23 motorists were killed in a Pennsylvania work zone. Through this program, we are urging motorists to slow down and pay attention while driving, especially in work zones where roadway conditions can change on a daily basis.”
The speed enforcement program was established by the state General Assembly in Act 86 of 2018. It provides for a minimum 60-day pre-enforcement pilot period which will begin this week. During the pilot phase, violations will not be issued.
Once enforcement begins next year, registered owners of vehicles that speed through work zones will receive a warning letter for a first offense, a violation notice with a $75 fine for a second offense and fines of $150 for third and subsequent offenses. The violations are civil penalties only and no points will be assessed to driver’s licenses.
This program will likely save lives. In 2018, there were 1,804 work zone crashes in Pennsylvania, resulting in 23 fatalities. Since 1970, the state Department of Transportation has lost 89 workers who were killed while working on highways and 45 workers have been killed since 1945 working along the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
“We are committed to facilitating the efficient movement of traffic through work zones while ensuring the safety of drivers, passengers and workers,” said State Police Major James Basinger, director of the state police Bureau of Patrol. “PSP continues to work closely with our safety partners to explore how to best leverage evolving technology to make Pennsylvania roads safer.”
Drivers can make roads safer by simply slowing down and obeying traffic limits. Motorists who drive 11 mph or more through work zones are putting themselves, other drivers and highway workers at risk of injury or death and by doing so, deserve a speeding ticket.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher and top newsroom executives. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard.