PennDOT wants to put the brakes on work-zone crashes

This is National Work Zone Awareness Week, but PennDOT officials are asking drivers to be careful all construction season long.

Along Trindle Road near Carlisle, there’s an active construction zone. Bill Clee is one of the workers.

“I have a wife and a son,” Clee said. “I enjoy seeing him every day. I like going home every day just like everyone else.”

Since 1970, 86 PennDOT workers haven’t been able to do that. Most of them died in work zones.

Clee almost became a statistic because a driver wasn’t paying attention.

“He came flying up and I was standing there, holding the flag paddle,” Clee said. “The next thing you know, I heard the brakes squeal. He came up and I left the paddle go and I ran for the side of the road. He hit the paddle and that went flying.”

Construction zone workers do what they can to stay safe. They put up cones and signs, wear safety vests and hard hats, and go through training.

“If something’s coming that you’ve got to get out of the way, you want to try and alert the people ahead of you that you’re trying to protect as much as possible,” said Brian Glass, a PennDOT assistant highway maintenance manager. “At all costs, you want to get out of the way and alert everyone that you can.”

But when you’re separated from a moving vehicle only by an orange cone, bad things can happen.

“The reality is if you look at the last five years, we’ve had more than 9,000 crashes, we’ve had more than 6,000 injuries and more than 100 people have been killed,” PennDOT spokeswoman Fritzi Schreffler said. “That’s not just our employees or the contractors, that’s also the motoring public who die in work zones.”

Clee said it won’t take much to put the brakes on this tragic trend.

“We just ask people to take their time in the work zones; just realize there are other people out there working,” he said, “It’s not that we’re trying to inconvenience the public. We’re doing a job to try to make the roads safer for the public in general.”

Remember that fines for some violations are doubled in work zones. If you’re caught doing at least 11 mph over the speed limit, you can lose your license for 15 days.

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