Pennsylvania trying to ensure construction workers' safety

As many Pennsylvanians know, every year, construction workers are injured while doing their jobs repairing, maintaining and building the state's roads and highways. One basic problem is that motor vehicle drivers often speed in these areas, despite posted speed restrictions, warnings about fines and notices that workers are in the area. To address this perennial problem, state legislators work closely with law enforcement officials to find ways to hold drivers responsible for their traffic violations.

One recent proposal that could become law proposes the use of camera surveillance in construction zones to catch drivers violating speed limits, which is a major cause of construction workers' accidents. The pilot program, which is modeled on a similar endeavor in Maryland that began in 2009, would operate for five years. If Pennsylvania's experience is similar to Maryland's, there should be a significant decrease in violations. Last year, Maryland cameras captured more than 450,000 speed violations in construction areas. These speeding incidents amounted to one percent of all motorists traveling through construction zones, which was a significant drop from the seven percent of motorists who were violating speed laws when the program first began.

The new Pennsylvania law would impose $100 fines speeding in construction zones. In addition, anyone found guilty of endangering workers through reckless acts or negligence would face a $1,000 fine. Any aggravated injury causing endangerment also would result in a $5,000 fine, along with a driver's license suspension of approximately six months.

The injuries that construction workers suffer range from traumatic brain and spinal injuries to loss of limbs and organs. Many are never able to return to their jobs. Legislators hope that the new law will better hold those accountable for reckless behavior. Fortunately, workers and their families not only can often receive workers' compensation benefits, but also may have the right to file civil lawsuits for personal injury against the responsible motorist

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Pa. considering photo-enforcement system to catch work zone speeders," Jon Schmitz, May 23, 2015

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