What should be done to improve road construction safety?

A lot of people in the Pennsylvania Legislature agree that something needs to be done to improve safety at road construction sites. They just don’t agree on what needs to be done.

A bill in the state Senate would try putting cameras in construction zones to capture images of speeding drivers’ license plates. If the driver is going more than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit, he or she would receive a citation in the mail.

If passed, the bill would create a five-year pilot program to test the speed-camera idea.

Opponents believe that cameras would not go far enough to protect road crews from car accidents. Many lawmakers would prefer that state troopers be posted at work sites, to monitor dangerous driving behavior besides speeding and react to emergencies. As the president of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association pointed out to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “A camera’s just going to take a picture.”

State law already makes it a citation to speed past a construction zone by at least 11 mph. Offenders can be fined around $200 and have their driver’s licenses suspended for 15 days. But because of the danger of pursuing speeders near construction workers, police rarely issue tickets for this violation.

It is clear, however, that auto accidents in work construction sites are far too common. A total of 24 people were killed in work zones in 2014, triple the total in 2013, the Post-Gazette reports.

Doing road construction is dangerous enough when passing motorists obey the law and slow down while passing by. The odds of a terrible accident go up significantly when a motorist is reckless or negligent. When an accident occurs, injured workers may need to turn to workers’ compensation until they recover.