PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Preliminary data from PennDOT shows 2022 saw an improvement in the number of work zone accidents and fatalities.
Nevertheless, officials across the Commonwealth say there is still work to be done. State agencies are promoting safe driving practices ahead of National Work Zone Awareness Week later this month.
"There are still those that are choosing to be distracted drivers, and I say choosing because distracted driving is a choice," Pa. Turnpike Commission CEO Mark Compton said.
PennDOT anticipates a total of 1,800 projects through the year's end, highlighting the importance of road safety.
"Motorists traveling the work zone have to pay attention because these patterns change weekly, daily, sometimes every few hours," PennDOT Executive Deputy Secretary Cheryl Moon-Sirianni said.
Over the last 10 years, the Commonwealth has averaged 1,700 work zone crashes and 18 fatalities.
PennDOT's preliminary data for 2022 shows those numbers down last year, though the ultimate goal is 0.
"In 2022, there were 1,293 work zone crashes, which resulted in 14 fatalities. That's 14 too many," Pennsylvania State Police Major Robert Krol said.
Several initiatives steering those numbers in the right direction – including the Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement program.
"Last year alone the speeds reduced about 17% by these cameras being put up in certain work zones," Moon-Sirianni said. "Unfortunately they're not everywhere."
The state has also increased penalties for traffic violations in work zones.
Funding from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will also contribute to "Positive Protective Measures" to make working conditions safer.
Each helmet at Monday's briefing represented a worker who has died while on the job in a work zone.
"Our title for them is workers. However, as you know, they have a lot of other titles besides worker and colleague," Compton said. "They have father, they have son, they have mother, they have daughter. They have coach, they have Sunday school teacher. That's the loss this type of event brings."
Of the 182 deaths since 2013, 14 have been workers.
Last month, 6 workers, including a father and son, were killed when a passenger vehicle pulled into a work zone along the Baltimore beltway.
In Pennsylvania, PennDOT documented 171 intrusions in work zones last year.