Carl DeFebo
Manager, Media and Public Relations

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


Carl DeFebo
717-920-7176 (desk)

May 27, 2005



Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Works to Ensure Safety of Travelers During Memorial Day Weekend

Turnpike motorists reminded to make summer travel easier with E-ZPass.

HARRISBURGPennsylvania Turnpike Commission officials urge motorists to obey posted speed limits and buckle up during the Memorial Day period — one of the most heavily traveled holiday weekends of the year. Pennsylvania State Police will be patrolling the Turnpike in full force all through the holiday.

“We expect almost 2.5 million vehicles will travel the Turnpike during the holiday,” said PA State Police Capt. Rodney Patterson, commander of Troop T. “We are placing additional troopers on duty to help ensure traveler safety and to strictly enforce the traffic laws; and Troop T will be taking part in the statewide ‘Click it or Ticket’ campaign to enforce the commonwealth’s seatbelt usage law.”

Troopers will be also be enforcing the 65-mph speed limit, which is now in effect across the entire, 531-mile Turnpike system (except in a mountainous, 8-mile stretch of Turnpike just east of the Allegheny Mountain Tunnel in Somerset County, which will remain posted at 55 mph).

All Turnpike maintenance and construction work will be suspended through 6 a.m. Wednesday June 1, and all lanes will be open to traffic except in emergencies. In the event of emergency lane restrictions, the Turnpike will activate its Variable Message Signs and Highway Advisory Radio System (1640AM) to inform motorists of any roadway problems. During the weekend, Turnpike maintenance workers will be on standby to respond to customer assistance calls and other Turnpike emergencies.

Turnpike CEO Joe Brimmeier reminds vacationers to take advantage of Pennsylvania’s E-ZPass electronic toll-collection system as a way to get to your destination quicker — and without the hassle having to wait in line, stop at a tollbooth, or fumble for loose change and toll tickets.

“Summertime is the best time for E-ZPass, because it can help get your vacation under way a little sooner,” Brimmeier says. “Whether you’re headed to the beach or to the mountains, your Pennsylvania E-ZPass can be used in 10 other states — including New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.”

Brimmeier noted that more than just commuters use E-ZPass. Vacation travelers have decided to get going with E-ZPass too. “Even infrequent Turnpike users benefit from the convenience of E-ZPass,” Brimmeier said. “When you join E-ZPass, you start with a minimum account balance of $35 from which all of your tolls are debited. That balance will not expire and only needs to be replenished when the account dips below a pre-set level, so it’s ideal even if you’re not a frequent traveler.”

To get E-ZPass, simply visit to enroll online or call 1-877-PENN-PASS (1-877-736-6727). In addition, motorists can now get E-ZPass at select AAA offices. Transponders are available at 13 AAA offices in southwestern Pennsylvania, at three AAA offices in the Philadelphia area and at a single Wilkes-Barre location as well. To enroll at AAA, the customer fills out an application, establishes a pre-paid account, pays the associated fees and receives the E-ZPass transponder on the spot. The E-ZPass tag can be used immediately.

Yet another way to open an E-ZPass account is through special vending machines that have been installed at sites across Pennsylvania. The nation’s first “Tag Teller” is in the Turnpike’s Hempfield Service Plaza, Westmoreland County, near the New Stanton Exit #75. Machines are also at the Allentown Service Plaza, Lehigh County (just south of the Lehigh Valley Exit #56) on the Northeastern Extension (I-476), and in Strawberry Square shopping center, located in downtown Harrisburg.

“The Tag Teller has a touch-screen display and keyboard that customers use to sign up, and a friendly ‘assistant’ walks them through a brief form,” Brimmeier said. “Simply swipe your credit card and driver’s license, then enter the make, model and license plate of your vehicle. The process takes only 3 or 4 minutes; it’s almost as effortless as buying a pack of gum.”

Beginning this afternoon through Monday evening, PA Turnpike motorists should be aware of the potential for slow-moving traffic and heavy volumes. When driving in slow traffic, motorists should turn on headlights, maintain speed and keep ample distance from the vehicle ahead.

Travelers can call the Turnpike’s toll-free customer assistance line at 1-(800)-331-3414 for roadway, traffic and weather conditions before leaving. Also, motorists can browse the Turnpike web page at for pertinent information on travel, construction and other Turnpike news.

In case of an accident, breakdown or medical emergency, motorists can utilize one of the bright-yellow emergency call boxes located along the shoulder. In such an event, it is crucial that the vehicle be moved away from active travel lanes and every effort is made to keep a safe distance from moving traffic. Cellular phone users can dial *11 or 1-800-332-3880 to receive emergency aid. Be prepared to give your exact milepost location and direction of travel when you call.


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