|COMMISSION NEWS RELEASE|
|PA Turnpike Teams Up With PA State Police for ‘Operation Orange Squeeze’
New work-zone safety initiative launched during National Work-Zone Awareness Week.
|MIDDLETOWN, PA. (April 16, 2013) — The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission plans a robust roadway construction and maintenance program this year as it works to improve the 72-year-old highway. Accordingly, the Turnpike is teaming up with the Pennsylvania State Police to kick off “Operation Orange Squeeze” during National Work-Zone Awareness Week (April 15-19). The simple message: Slow down in work zones or pay the price.
“With construction under way across our 550-mile system, we strongly urge motorists to carefully obey the posted speed limit of 40 miles per hour in all work areas,” said PA Turnpike Chief Executive Officer Mark Compton. “If you see orange signs, cones, or barrels, then you are driving in an area where people are working to make the highway safer. Please reduce your speed and focus on driving.”
Safe work-zone driving is critical; the tragic result of not slowing down and paying attention is the loss of lives, be it highway workers or other travelers.
“Over the past seven decades, 33 Pennsylvania Turnpike employees lost their lives while performing their duties; many of these tragedies occurred in work zones,” Compton said. “Just last year, one of our maintenance employees, Michael San Felice, was killed while working near Mid County Interchange. We cannot stress enough the need to obey posted speed limits and avoid unnecessary distractions in work zones.”
Captain Gregory M. Bacher, commander of Pennsylvania State Police Troop T (the unit in charge of Turnpike patrols), warns motorists that troopers will be monitoring speeds in work zones in an uncommon manner this year. Troopers will be in orange, turnpike construction vehicles running radar in work zones with another trooper waiting outside the work zones ready to pull over and cite offenders.
It’s called “Operation Orange Squeeze” and Troop T is already putting the plan in motion.
“Motorists will not know where or when our troopers will be in construction vehicles, so they need to always obey the posted speed limit and travel with headlights turned on in all active work zones,” Capt. Bacher said. “The State Police will have zero tolerance for unsafe and aggressive driving in work zones. The safety of workers and motorists is of the utmost importance.”
Fines for certain traffic 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.
There will be roughly 4,000 construction and maintenance employees clad in hi-visibility hardhats and vests performing their duties across the entire turnpike system.
“These men and women put their lives on the line every day working on our highways, so we need to do our part to make sure they get home safely at the end of the day,” Compton concluded. “Safe driving is a choice, and we want our customers to understand that there are very real, very terrible consequences when the wrong choice is made.”
To make people more aware of Work Zone Safety Week, the Turnpike is holding a Safety Break event at the Allentown Service Plaza in Lehigh County on the Northeastern Extension April 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Information about work zone safety, aggressive driving and safe driving tips will be available. Additional Safety Break events will be held at various service plazas to educate drivers about the importance of wearing seatbelts, distracted driving and more. The other locations are: Sideling Hill in Fulton County, May 24; South Midway in Bedford County, June 28; New Stanton in Westmoreland County, July 26; Allentown, Aug. 30; and Sideling Hill, Nov. 27. All events are held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
To learn more, please visit www.paturnpike.com.