|PA Turnpike News|
PA Turnpike Maintenance Workers Appeal to Motorists in New Safety Promotion
“Orange Squeeze” campaign is launched after employee fatalities in 2012 and 2014.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission announced today that it will launch a major safety initiative to urge motorists to slow down in work zones. The campaign — which comes less than a year after Turnpike maintenance employee Bill McGuigan was killed in a Chester County work zone — will tout “Operation Orange Squeeze,” where state troopers conduct speed enforcement from construction vehicles inside work areas.
“All of us at the Turnpike were deeply affected by Bill’s unfortunate death, especially his colleagues at the Devault maintenance facility; we are determined to do whatever we can to get motorists to slow down,” said PA Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “The commission is committed to raising awareness about the harsh consequences of speeding in work zones. Bill left behind a wife and two grown daughters whose lives were shattered when the state police knocked on the door that day to bring the sad news.”
McGuigan, of Ardsley, Pa., was killed June 1, 2014 when he was struck by a truck that apparently entered the closed lane in which he was working; he was the second Turnpike Maintenance Department employee to be killed in less than a year. Michael R. San Felice of West Norriton, Pa., was killed Oct. 22, 2012 in a crash in Montgomery County. San Felice was picking up debris on the shoulder when a vehicle left the roadway and struck a maintenance vehicle which in turn struck San Felice.
“Over the years, more than 30 Pennsylvania Turnpike employees have lost their lives while performing their duties; many of these tragedies happened in work zones,” said PA Turnpike Chairman Sean Logan. “Our highway maintenance workers and their families are counting on us to help protect them, and their safety is our main concern.”
The work—zone campaign will include advertising, media relations and public outreach tactics with a goal of changing how motorists drive in work zones. It includes three appeals: a direct appeal from actual maintenance workers to drivers; an emotional appeal reminding motorists of the devastation experienced by family members of workers who have been killed; and a selfish appeal that reminds drivers what they can lose if pulled over in a work zone.
“We have put together a campaign that the public will remember, and we hope it will make our customers think as they drive in our work areas,” Logan said. “If we can prevent just one more tragedy, then our efforts will have been productive.”
The campaign will launch in May in the Philadelphia market — where the two most recent employee fatalities occurred — and will move statewide throughout the summer, concluding at the end of August.
As part of the campaign, the Turnpike Commission is asking travelers to visit www.OperationOrangeSqueeze.com to learn more about the importance of safe driving in work areas and to join other motorists in a safe driving pledge. By encouraging motorists to sign the safe driving pledge and to express why they are doing so, the commission is hoping drivers will stop and think more personally about what impact their driving choices can have on themselves, their own families and others on the roadway.
The Turnpike has teamed up with Pennsylvania State Police Troop T — the unit in charge of Turnpike patrols — to activate Operation Orange Squeeze. Troopers will be inside construction vehicles (including the Turnpike’s orange dump trucks) running radar within work zones while another trooper waits outside the work zone to pull over and cite offenders.
“Drivers won’t know where or when our troopers will be cracking down, so they should always obey the posted speed limit and travel with headlights on in work zones,” said Lieutenant David L. Cain, acting Troop T commander. “Motorists who are cited in a work zone travelling 11 mph or more over the speed limit could face around $200 in fines plus a 15—day suspension of their license.”
The danger that Turnpike workers face every day on the road is significant. Last year alone, there were 150 crashes in Turnpike work zones. With nearly 60 active Turnpike construction projects worth $1.2 billion planned for 2015, there will be thousands of workers on the toll—road system this spring and summer.
“There is no greater priority for this commission than the safety of our workers,” said Compton. “We are committed to doing whatever it takes to tackle this issue and save lives. We hope our message will impact how drivers act in all work zones, not just the ones on our roadway.”