Bipartisan proposal would protect highway construction workers, motorists

HARRISBURG – A bipartisan proposal that would create a five-year pilot program to place automated speed enforcement systems in active work zones won the unanimous approval of the Senate Transportation Committee today.

Senate Bill 840, sponsored by Senators David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) and Judy Schwank (D-Berks), would create a program to allow the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to place speed-monitoring cameras in active work zones.

Earlier this year, Berks County resident Holly Doppel struck a chord with many senators, including Argall and Schwank.

Doppel’s son was part of a work crew near Bensalem along the Turnpike on May 2. Fortunately, her son left the crew at 1 a.m. Four hours later, a motorist was killed and four construction workers were injured, one with life-altering injuries.

“The goal is to save lives of construction workers and motorists alike in these work zones all across the state,” Argall said. “While this proposal cannot undo the void left in many families across the state who lost a loved one due to crashes as a result of excessive speeding, I hope this brings peace of mind to families of road crews and motorists that we are trying to change driver’s behavior, especially in these work zones.”

Motorists caught exceeding the speed limit by an automated system would be subject to a flat $100 citation with no points or other repercussions. The system would only be active when the work zone is active. The bill also contains several provisions to inform motorists of a work zone with automated speed enforcement systems deployed, including ample signage, a 24-hour grace period and details posted online.

“I’m pleased that the committee acted on our proposal so swiftly,” Schwank said. “Experience with these systems in other places shows that they work, and slower speeds mean fewer highway injuries and deaths for motorists and workers. There is still a long way to go, but I’m hopeful it can be in place for next year’s construction season.”

A similar program in Maryland realized an 85 percent reduction in the amount of motorists speeding in work zones.

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