Media & Public Relations

Contact: Carl DeFebo
Phone: 717.645.2265
April 25, 2012
PA Turnpike Officials Encourage Motorists to 'Decelerate and Concentrate' in Work Areas

Turnpike spreads vital safety message during National Work-Zone Awareness Week April 23-27

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is making historic investments in roadway improvements this spring and summer, and that means near record levels of construction and maintenance activity across the 545-mile system of toll roads. As a result, Turnpike leaders are hitting the highway during National Work-Zone Awareness Week (April 23-27) with a simple message: Slow down and pay attention in work zones.
“As construction season gets under way, we are strongly urging customers to ‘decelerate and concentrate’ in work areas,” said PA Turnpike Chief Operating Officer Craig Shuey. “Remember, if you encounter orange signs, cones or barrels, you are driving in an area where people are working to make the highway safer. Please give them the consideration of reducing your speed and focusing on driving.”
Safe driving in a work area is critical; the unfortunate result of not slowing down and paying attention is the loss of lives, including highway workers or other travelers.
“Over the past seven decades, 32 Pennsylvania Turnpike employees lost their lives while performing their duties with the commission — most of these tragic incidents occurred in work zones,” Shuey said. “These men and women are family members, friends, coworkers and neighbors — a fact we all need to remember each time we see road work.”
Because of the age of the Turnpike, which first opened to traffic Oct. 1, 1940, the commission has beefed up spending, so motorists will encounter numerous work zones this year. In fact, more than two-thirds of the mainline Turnpike is expected to be impacted by construction throughout the year.
“During 2012, we will have roughly 4,000 construction and maintenance employees performing their duties across our system,” said PA Turnpike Field Operations Manager Vince Talucci. “They’ll be clad in hi-visibility hardhats and vests, so be on the lookout for fluorescent yellow-green.”

Capt. Kathy Jo Winterbottom, commander of Pennsylvania State Police Troop T (the unit in charge of Turnpike patrols), reminds motorists that they must adhere to certain work-zone regulations under the state vehicle code — regulations designed to protect traveler and worker safety alike.
“In addition to obeying the posted speed limit within a work zone, motorists are required to travel with headlights turned on in in all posted and active work zones,” Capt. Winterbottom said. “Fines for certain violations, including speeding, are doubled in active work zones. Motorists caught driving 11 miles per hour or more above the posted speed limit in an active work zone will lose their license for 15 days.”
Capt. Winterbottom added that tailgating is always an unwise driving behavior, but it's worse in work areas due to construction equipment and workers and the likelihood of stopped or slow-moving traffic. “Allow more space between you and the vehicle in front of you to safely react to unforeseen hazards or unintentional debris,” she said.
“Highway maintenance and construction workers put their lives on the line every day, so we need to do our part to make sure these men and women get home safely at the end of the day,” Shuey concluded. “Safe driving is a choice, and we want our customers to understand that there are very real, very tragic consequences when the wrong choice is made.”
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