Pennsylvania’s highway construction industry is partnering with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to call for a safety stand-down on Wednesday, Sept. 15, to prevent jobsite accidents. The event which has been dubbed “Safer Together” will call upon both the transportation construction industry and the motoring public to focus on work zone safety.
Nearly 50,000 people are injured or killed around U.S. transportation project jobsites each year, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Some involve improper employee positioning around construction equipment, or lack of communication or awareness; some involve the motoring public traveling at unsafe speeds. Nearly all are avoidable.
“In recent months, there has been an increase in work zone incidents in Pennsylvania,” said Associated Pennsylvania Constructors Executive Vice President Robert Latham. “As construction workers go through the routine motions of working with heavy equipment, accidents can occur if they become complacent even for a moment. We’re urging workers to maintain their focus on safety as we near the completion of this year’s construction season. We hope that this collaboration between the highway industry, PennDOT and the PA Turnpike will bring attention to this issue and prevent future jobsite injuries or fatalities.”
Transportation workers will be asked to dedicate 30 minutes of their day to focus on work zone safety through various activities such as safety talks, traffic control plan reviews, or utilizing one of the many resources provided on the event webpage. Workers are also encouraged to take a web-based training course on Temporary Traffic Control Safety offered by PennDOT.
Pennsylvania drivers will be reminded to slow down in work zones, observe the posted speed limits, and put down the phone while driving. In 2020 alone, 15 people were killed in crashes in Pennsylvania work zones, according to PennDOT data.
“Safety is PennDOT’s most important priority, not just for our highway workers, but also for the motoring public,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “That’s why PennDOT supports our partners from across the state as they stand down and take a moment to focus on work zone safety. PennDOT also urges drivers to slow down and pay attention, especially when traveling through work zones. When we all work together, we are all safer.”
“During the height of the pandemic, with fewer drivers on the roadway, many who were driving were doing so at excessive rates of speed and using their cellphones more frequently and for longer periods of time,” said Mark Compton, PA Turnpike CEO. “Many more drivers are now returning to the roadway, but unfortunately the trend of unsafe driving behaviors is on the upswing as well. More motorists speeding and driving distractedly can have serious consequences for our roadway teams who can be working inches away from live traffic.”
PennDOT and the PA Turnpike Commission launched the Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement (AWZSE) program in 2020 to reduce driving speeds and change driver behavior in work zones. Motorists are encouraged to learn more about the program during the safety stand-down on the event webpage.
Those participating in the stand-down will be encouraged to share their involvement through their social media platforms using the hashtag #safertogetherpa.
In addition to PennDOT and the PA Turnpike Commission, partnering highway construction industry organizations include Associated Pennsylvania Constructors, American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania, American Concrete Pavement Association Pennsylvania Chapter, Constructors Association of Western Pennsylvania, Constructors Association of Eastern Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Aggregates and Concrete Association, Pennsylvania Asphalt Pavement Association, and National Utility Contractors Association.
For further details, visit www.paconstructors.org/safer-together.