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New laws encourage motorists to slow down in work zones

November 01, 2018 12:00 AM
By: Larissa Newton

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Have you ever had a flat tire that required you to pull off to the side of a highway? When you got out of your vehicle, did you feel the wind gusts as other vehicles sped past you? Were you scared?

Road workers deal with the reality – and consequences – of speeding motorists on a regular basis. Forty percent of all work zone crashes involve speeding. There has been a 5 percent increase in the average annual rate of work zone crashes statewide from 2012-2016, increasing from 1,661 in 2012 to 2,075 in 2016.

Two pieces of legislation recently signed by Gov. Tom Wolf aim toward reversing that trend.

Act 86 – or the Automated Speed Enforcement in Work Zones legislation – allows PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to perform a five-year pilot program in which some construction and maintenance work zones will have cameras that will take photos of license plates of any vehicle exceeding the work zone speed limit by 11 mph or more when workers are present.

If a violation is committed, a Pennsylvania State Police representative will review it and then a notice of violation will be issued to the registered vehicle owner. The first violation is a warning, the second violation results in a $75 fine and the third and subsequent violation means a $150 fine. Violations will not be subject to driving points or merit rating for insurance purposes. Special advanced signage advising motorists of the camera enforcement have to be erected at the affected work zones.

animated gif of a truck speeding and hitting the rear of an attenuator truck
Fortunately no one was injured in this crash, but this video from our Clearfield-based District 2 region shows what our teams occasionally face.

Act 117 allows for PennDOT and PTC to implement highly automated work zone vehicles in active work zones. Truck Mounted Attenuators are safety vehicles designed to protect workers and decrease damage to work zone equipment by absorbing the impact of any vehicle that encroaches in a work zone. They are required by policy and national standards to be in all mobile maintenance and constructions operations, such as pavement marking painting, crack/joint sealing, and pothole repairs.

In mobile operations, a PennDOT employee is required the be in the vehicle at all times. In 2017, 18 PennDOT-owned attenuators were impacted in work zones. And while the vehicles are engineered the minimize the impact on the operators, injuries can still occur, both physical and psychologically. By allowing for HAV work zone vehicles, PennDOT employees will be put out of harm's way when these incidents occur.

With 89 PennDOT employees having been killed in the line of duty since 1970, it's important to keep our work zones as safe as possible.

"I am thrilled that the Legislature and Governor have taken this step that aims to save the lives of our employees, motorists, and our partners in the contracting community," PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said in a recent press release. "We have seen some speeds in work zones that are simply unacceptable, and we are confident that this tool will drive down speeding violations."

Read more about work zone safety – including stories of some of our employees' close calls and our workers' memorial page – at

Act 117 also allows for the platooning of automated buses, military vehicles, or motor carriers on limited access highways or Interstates. It also instructs PennDOT to establish a Highly Automated Vehicle Advisory Committee. Learn more about automated vehicles in Pennsylvania at

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