HARRISBURG, Pa., April 4, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Recognizing the 22 people killed in work zones statewide last year, acting PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch, P.E., today joined other state officials and local public utility providers to mark the start of National Work Zone Awareness Week, which runs through April 8.
"Highway work zones are among the most dangerous places to work, with workers putting their lives at risk each time they fix a roadway or repair a gas, electric or water line," Schoch said. "These workers are trying to perform difficult jobs while tons of steel race past them. Always use caution in work zones and never drive distracted. Your life and the lives of highway workers and other motorists are at stake."
According to PennDOT data, the 22 people killed in work zones last year included four workers: three PennDOT employees and one contractor. Three of those worker deaths were caused by a vehicle entering the work zone. Since 1970, 82 PennDOT employees have been killed in the line of duty.
In 2010, there were 1,884 crashes in work zones, a dramatic increase from the 1,519 crashes in 2009 and the most in any of the past five years. Over the five-year period, there were 8,302 work-zone crashes and 114 fatalities.
"While this is one week of awareness for work-zone safety, we want motorists to recognize that they should use extreme caution every time they pass our workers or contractors in work zones," Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Chief Operating Officer Craig Shuey said. "We encourage motorists to follow work-zone safety laws and let us do our job of maintaining and improving the Turnpike system."
"The Pennsylvania State Police and local law enforcement officers always encourage motorists to drive safely and we are diligent in our efforts to catch drivers who can do themselves or others harm," Pennsylvania State Police Captain M.L. Henry said. "We take our mission of highway safety seriously and if you choose to drive unsafely in a work zone, you will get caught."
Crews from PP&L Electric Utilities, UGI Utilities, Pennsylvania American Water and PSI Traffic Controllers also attended the event.
"It's important that motorists remember that work zones aren't just those where PennDOT, the Turnpike or our contractors are working," Schoch said. "The reality is that utility companies are out there each and every day, and their workers deserve your full attention when driving through their work zones."
Media contact: Steve Chizmar or Erin Waters, +1-717-783-8800
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Transportation