CLEARFIELD – Recognizing the 22 people killed in work zones statewide last year, acting PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch, P.E., joined other state officials and local public utility providers to mark the start of National Work Zone Awareness Week, which runs through April 8.
“Work Zone Awareness Week is observed each year to draw motorists’ attention to construction and utility workers who are out on Pennsylvania’s roadways,” said PennDOT D-2 Executive Kevin Klein. “Motorists should be aware there are municipal workers and private contractors whose ‘office’ is on Pennsylvania’s highways, and we ask that they drive cautiously in work zones so we can all get home safely.”
Ron Keim, assistant district executive for maintenance, commented on the death of a D-2 flagger that occurred last year.
“We had a worker in McKean County tragically hit by an inattentive motorist.”
Keim was referring to Jack Griffin, who was working as a flagger at the time of the accident.
“We can’s stress too much to the motoring public to be aware,” said Kleim. He noted that PennDOT workers are constrantly training to increase their awareness as well as improve workzone safety.
Donna Figula, D-2 maintenance manager, introduced the new flagger paddles that will be used in the field. The stop/slow signs feature highly visible, strobing LED lights on both sides to increase flaggers’ visibility to motorists. Each of the nine counties in D-2 will receive two sets of the new paddles.
“We stress safety in the workzone,” said Figula.
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.