Berks Senators introduce work zone safety measure

HARRISBURG – Holly Doppel of Lenhartsville emailed Senators David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) and Judy Schwank (D-Berks) after she read the lawmakers were interested in spearheading a bipartisan effort to strengthen safety in work zones.

Doppel was referring to the lawmakers’ push to add speed cameras to ensure the speed limit is followed in work zones.

A fatal accident on the morning of May 2 near Bensalem on the Pennsylvania Turnpike took the life of a motorist and sent four construction workers to the hospital. Doppel’s youngest son was working with the Bensalem crew that was involved in the accident, but left at 1 a.m. The accident occurred at 5:30 a.m.

“I am for having the cameras at the work zones,” Doppel wrote to the Senators. “Also, I am for any other project that can be used to protect our construction workers.”

The two Berks County lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 840 that would allow for automated speed cameras in active work zones across the state.

“With the added investment to fix our roads and bridges, we need to do everything we can to protect the lives of the men and women making those improvements possible,” Argall said. “One life lost is one too many and this proposal would allow PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission to identify areas where workers are most at risk. This measure has been proven in other states to change driver behavior and create a safer experience for both motorists and workers alike.”

“Our goal is to make sure that both motorists and workers are as safe as they can be when highway work is being done,” Schwank said. “We believe this bill is a fair balance that will get motorists to pay more attention when improvements and construction change the normal highway routines.”

The bipartisan proposal would create a five-year pilot program for automated speed enforcement on interstate highways under the jurisdiction of PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. Motorists caught exceeding the speed limit will be subject to a $100 fine. The areas with speed-monitoring cameras will be adequately marked to inform motorists as well, including posted to the PennDOT and the Turnpike’s respective websites.

“Safety is the goal and these programs have proven to lower the amount of crashes and reduce speeds in work zones in other states with similar programs,” Argall said.

“Other states’ experience shows that these programs do slow down traffic, and the result is that more workers get home at the end of the day and more motorists’ end their trips at their destinations instead of in a hospital or worse,” Schwank said.

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