HARRISBURG, Pa., July 16, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Pennsylvania Turnpike today joined the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC), and Flagger Force to honor lives lost in work zones across the country as the National Work Zone Memorial makes three stops in Pennsylvania.
Unveiled in April 2002, the American Traffic Safety Services Foundation's National Work Zone Memorial and its "Respect and Remembrance: Reflections of Life on the Road" program is a living tribute to the memory of lives lost in work zones. The memorial is updated each year and travels to communities cross-country, year-round to raise public awareness of the need to respect and stay safe in America's roadway work zones.
"Having the National Work Zone Memorial stop in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh is a great honor, but also very sobering because you can see the people who have lost their lives during work to improve our transportation system," said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. "As drivers we must realize that work on our roadways is essential to keep people and commerce flowing, and as residents of the state it is our responsibility to obey work zone laws to keep these workers safe from harm."
The event also featured PennDOT's traveling worker's memorial in the lobby of the Keystone Building in Harrisburg. The memorial includes 85 posts topped by hard hats and draped in safety vests. Each post represents a PennDOT employee who died in the line of duty since 1970.
Speakers at the event also emphasized that work-zone safety doesn't just affect workers, but also the traveling public. PennDOT data shows that 24 people were killed in work-zone crashes in 2014, eight more than in 2013.
In addition to crash data from police reports, PennDOT monitors work-zone safety with internal reports. In 2014, there were 131 reported intrusions in PennDOT work zones, 92 of which nearly resulted in employee injury or caused damage to equipment, and 21 of which caused fleet or equipment damage. Of those intrusions, 18 resulted in injuries to PennDOT employees.
So far this year, there have been 96 reported work-zone intrusions, six resulting in employee injury, three injuries to the public and 11 causing damage to department vehicles or equipment.
Workers for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission are also facing danger every day, CEO Mark Compton said.
"Too many construction workers have been sent to the hospital in recent months and too many PA Turnpike employees killed over the years by speed and distraction in work zones," CEO Compton said. "These men and women are the unsung heroes of our highways; it is appropriate and imperative to memorialize those who had been killed on the job. For drivers, this is a sobering visual reminder of the tragic consequences of unsafe driving in work areas."
In addition to driving safely to protect highway workers, state law requires drivers to increase their visibility and obey work-zone speed limits. Drivers who don't turn on their headlights in posted work zones face a $25 fine. Also, motorists caught driving 11 mph or more above the posted speed limit in active work zones automatically will lose their license for 15 days.
To learn more about The Foundation's National Work Zone Memorial visit, www.atssa.com/TheFoundation.
To view testimonials from PennDOT employees who have witnessed or been injured in work-zone crashes, or who have a message for motorists, visit the "Work Zone" information center on www.JustDrivePA.com to view the department's #Slow4zone campaign. The campaign emphasizes that each employee is a mother, youth mentor or family member who wants to get home safely each day. Join the discussion on social media by using #Slow4Zone in posts.
MEDIA CONTACT: Ashley Schoch, 717-783-8800
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Transportation; Pennsylvania Turnpike