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State cracking down on dangerous driving in work zones

HARRISBURG, Pa. — It’s a matter of life and death for some people working on Pennsylvania’s roads and lawmakers are one step closer to crackin...

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- It's a matter of life and death for some people working on Pennsylvania's roads and lawmakers are one step closer to cracking down on drivers who break the law in work zones. A bill is moving at the capitol that would increase the fines and penalties for drivers charged with serious work zone offenses.

Currently,  fines are doubled in an active work zone and your license is suspended for 15 days. But the State Senate recently passed legislation that would increase fines and penalties for drivers caught endangering highway workers or first responders. Serious offenses in highway work zones could mean a 6-month license suspension and fines ranging from $1,000-5,000. The legislation is now in the House for consideration.

Another proposal, which hasn't gotten much traction, calls for speed cameras located along active work zones.

PennDOT spokesperson, Fritzi Shreffler says sadly, bad behavior in work zones is something they see often. "We've lost more than 80 employees since we became a department back in 1976. This year alone we had six employees. That also doesn't take into account how many contractors are killed or injured in work zones as well."

Shreffler couldn't comment on the pending legislation directly, but commends any measures that improve the safety of work zones. "There are some bills out there that are looking at things like cameras and things like increasing the fines for these things. Anything that can be done to help improve safety for everybody in the work zone is obviously something that will make PennDOT very happy," she said.

Tyler Grim has experienced some close calls while working in trenches, many times alongside the road and drivers. He remembered a driver nearly hitting him a few weeks ago. "They were just feet away from coming into the trench while I was in it.  So you just seen the bumper of the car. My operator is honking and we’re running, and arms are flying, it can get pretty scary," he said. "The biggest thing is the speed. They see the signs, we put the signs out to warn them that we’re here and they seem to not even pay attention to it. They just fly past your head."