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PennDOT urges drivers to be cautious as National Work Zone Awareness Week kicks off

National Work Zone Awareness Week is an effort to educate drivers and make sure people on both sides of the construction barriers stay safe.

YORK COUNTY, Pa. — As the weather warms, road construction will once again ramp up across the state of Pennsylvania.

April 11 marks the start of National Work Zone Awareness Week. It's an effort by state and federal officials to educate drivers and make sure people on both sides of the construction barriers stay safe.

PennDOT statistics show there were more than 1,600 work zone crashes in 2021. Tragically, 15 of those were fatal.

Since its creation in 1970, PennDOT has lost 90 workers in the line of duty. The Pennsylvania Turnpike has lost 45 workers since 1940.

"When you're going through that work zone, remember that those are real people on the other side of that cone, or the other side of that barrier and think of them as your own family," Fritzi Schreffler, spokesperson for PennDOT District 8, said. "How would you feel if someone was doing that kind of driving behavior around your family? Take it personally and it's going to help save everybody's life."

PennDOT says many work zone accidents are preventable, as they're usually caused by things like speeding, drowsy or distracted driving, and sometimes even impaired driving.

In 2020, automated work zone speed cameras were implemented in Pennsylvania to try to cut down on work zone crashes. The devices were mounted on vehicles parked in active work zones and detected drivers going 11 mph or more over the posted speed limit on average. 

PennDOT says there has been some pushback from drivers about the system, but argue it's something many other states have been doing for years.

"My thought is if you aren't speeding, if you aren't breaking the law then you're not going to get caught on camera," Schreffler said. "We do what it takes. The first time it's just going to be a warning. It takes a second and third time before you start getting fined so at least the first time, take that warning to heart."

That second offense comes with a $75 fine and the third offense goes up to a $150 fine.

Drivers are also reminded fines for many traffic violations, like speeding, driving under the influence, and disobeying traffic signs or devices, are doubled if they are committed in a work zone.

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