Kathy Liebler
                        Director of Public Information

C   O   M   M   I   S   S   I   O   N                N   E   W   S             R   E   L   E   A   S   E   

  Contact:     Kathy Liebler, (717) 939-9551 Ex. 2840

May 25, 1999
Attention radio stations:
Voice actualities related to this news release
are available. Please call TIBS, the Turnpike's
Information Broadcast Service at 1-800-563-5425.)


Harrisburg, PA -- Ticketing speeders, checking for seat belt and child safety restraint use and preventing road rage incidents will be the highest priorities for Pennsylvania State Police Troop T patrolling the Turnpike this Memorial Day Weekend.

"We expect 1.8 million motorists to travel the Turnpike this weekend," said Pennsylvania State Police (Troop T) Captain Richard A. Stein. "We want the word out that we are strongly enforcing three major life-saving programs throughout the holiday period (from 12:01 a.m. Friday, May 28 through midnight, Monday, May 31). Additional Troop T officers will be on duty to help ensure the safety of Turnpike travelers and enforce traffic laws."

Executive Director John T. Durbin said, "As always, we will do everything in our power throughout the holiday weekend to offer our customers a safe, convenient and comfortable journey on the historic Pennsylvania Turnpike. We want them to have an enjoyable and fun-filled weekend, but especially we want them to have a safe weekend. Strict enforcement of several safety programs will help ensure the safety of motorists and their passengers."

Operation Centipede involves teams of troopers in radar-equipped patrol cars positioned at various intervals along the highway. This enforcement effort is highly effective in detecting motorists who slow down when they spot a patrol car but regain speed when they think they are out of the range of radar.

Buckle Up America Week (May 23 through May 31) coincides with the holiday weekend. Captain Stein said, "Statistics show that in 1998, the number of children properly secured in child safety restraints was only five-percent, while 66-percent of adults utilized their seatbelts. There's no question that the proper use of seatbelts and child safety restraints save lives." Reminding motorists of the law, Stein said children from birth to age four must be restrained in a properly installed child safety seat in the backseat of the vehicle. Youngsters age four and over must use seatbelts in the backseat of the vehicle. He said, "Placing a child in the front seat of a vehicle is not only highly dangerous, but against the law."

Stein said it is estimated that in 1998 alone, 489 lives could have been saved in Pennsylvania with the use of seatbelts. Additionally, it is estimated that if 100-percent of the motoring public had used seatbelts and child safety restraints in 1998, there would have been over $2 billion in economic savings. On Friday, May 28, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Turnpike's King of Prussia Service Plaza, Troop T, along with Pennsylvania Turnpike's Safety Department and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will offer free demonstrations on the correct way to install and use child safety restraints. As a reminder to buckle up, all Troop T marked patrol cars will display red, white, and blue striped ribbons throughout the holiday weekend.

Ticket the Aggressive Driver (TAG-D) targets drivers displaying all forms of road rage. Unmarked Troop T patrol cars will scour the roadway in search of motorists exhibiting aggressive behavior like cutting in front of other motorists, tail-gating, and in any way threatening the safety of Turnpike travelers.

Director of Safety and Operation Center Joseph P. McCool advised motorists to have their vehicles checked before leaving home. "Something as simple as a broken hose can wreak havoc and cause unnecessary delays," he said. McCool also urged motorists to take frequent breaks in order to prevent drift-off-the-road accidents. Should motorists require assistance, emergency call boxes are located at one-mile intervals along the entire roadway. Cellular phone users can call for emergency aid by dialing *-1-1 (star-1-1). In addition to Troop T officers, Turnpike maintenance crews and safety patrols will be on duty to aid drivers in need of emergency service.

Weary travelers can take a refreshing break at any of the Turnpike's 22 multi-concept service plazas, open around the clock. In addition to the many goods and services offered at the service plazas, motorists are reminded that the Turnpike's Farmers' Markets will be open. The markets are located at the Allentown (north and southbound, milepost 35.9 on the Northeastern Extension, Route 476), Valley Forge (eastbound only, milepost 324.6), Sideling Hill (east and westbound 172.3), and New Stanton (westbound, milepost 77.6). The popular markets feature fresh, in-season produce, along with delicious homemade pastries, jellies, and jams.

All construction and maintenance activity on the Turnpike will be modified between 3 p.m. Thursday, May 27 through 6 a.m. Tuesday, June 1 allowing all lanes to be open to traffic, with the exception of certain areas on the mainline which include mileposts 94 to 99.2, where eastbound lanes will be reduced from three to two, mileposts 282 to 284, where lane widths will be reduced and the Schuylkill River Bridge, mileposts 330 to 332 where lane widths will be reduced. On the Northeastern extension from mileposts A99 to A100, there will be a single lane traffic pattern.

Over-dimensional vehicles (over 8-1/2 feet in width, 85 feet in length, 13-1/2 feet in height and 100,000 pounds gross weight) will not be allowed on the Pennsylvania Turnpike from sundown Thursday, May 27 to sunrise Wednesday, June 2.


 P.O. Box 67676, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7676         Phone: (717) 939-9551         Fax: (717) 986-9649