Harrisburg – Nov. 18, 2015 – Legislation geared toward preventing distracted and aggressive driving in work zones is heading to Gov. Tom Wolf for signature after unanimous concurrence by the Senate this week, according to the bill’s sponsors, Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-43) and Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46).
“I am honored and humbled at the overwhelming support by my House and Senate colleagues for this critically important measure. We have the opportunity to save lives with this legislation and to show our support for those working to keep our highways safe and we’ve done just that,” Costa said. “There isn’t a text, an email or a phone call that is more important than our workers returning home safe to their families.”
Senate Bill 887, which originally passed the Senate in June, toughens penalties for drivers who endanger or kill a highway worker or first responder in a construction zone. The bill also broadens the scope of “highway workers” to include emergency personnel, local government and municipal workers, members of the Pennsylvania State Police and law enforcement community, and contractors or utility company workers.
“The frequency of incidents in work zones is troubling, and highway workers and their families live in constant fear that the irresponsible actions of a distracted or aggressive driver will ultimately lead to a tragedy. By strengthening the penalties for reckless drivers, we can help limit the dangers faced by the men and women who help maintain our vital infrastructure,” Bartolotta said. “I am pleased my colleagues recognized the significance of this bipartisan legislation and that we owe it to workers and their families to do everything in our power to limit the dangers they face.”
Under the bill, violators could face fines and penalties exceeding $1,000 for irresponsible driving in work zones. More serious offenses involving injuries to highway workers or emergency responders could result in a fine of up to $5,000 and a six-month suspension of the violator’s driver’s license. Drivers causing the death of a worker would pay a fine of up to $10,000 and surrender their license for one year.
Amendments made in the state House clarified that the increased fines and license suspension called for in the bill begin upon conviction, adjudication of delinquency or admission into accelerated rehabilitative disposition program. The House also changed the effective date from 60 days to six months.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that approximately 100 workers are killed and another 20,000 workers are injured every year in highway and street construction accidents.
Stacey Witalec, Senator Jay Costa 717-877-2997
Colleen Greer, Senator Camera Bartolotta 717-787-1463