CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Police departments in Centre County are cracking down on speeding and distracted driving in work zones by participating in an Aggressive Driving Enforcement Wave.

The effort comes as PennDOT reports 1,617 work zone crashes in 2021, leading to 15 fatalities.

“Our workers are out on the roadways trying to make it safer for us, but to do so, we need to make it safer for them,” said Ferguson Township Sergeant Ryan Hendricks, Centre County traffic safety coordinator. “Each and every day we need to slow down and be more attentive as we go through active work zones.”

As construction revs up this spring, drivers are reminded of the fines involved if you drive 11 miles per hour over the work zone speed limit.

“You will lose your license for 15 days, not to mention the fines will be double,” said Hendrick. “Effective immediately, Ferguson Township, Patton Township, Spring Township, and the State College Borough will be actively working and enforcing all traffic violations in work zones.” 

This year, PennDOT is working on 98 projects in District 2, which includes eight counties in addition to Centre. This includes 210 miles of paving and 57 bridge renovations or replacements.

PennDOT’s Assistant District Executive for Construction Steve Fantechi said District 2 plans to use Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement (AWZSE), a vehicle-mounted system to detect and record speeding in work zones.

“It’s been effective in reducing speeds,” said Fantechi. “In 2020, we noticed speeding in our work zones was about 30% of traffic and it went to to about 20% in 2021. Excessive speeds went from about 5% down to about 3%.”

Josh Woods, community traffic safety project coordinator with the Highway Safety Network, shares the following tips for work zone driving safety”

  • Drive the posted work zone speed limit.
  • Stay alert and pay close attention to signs and flaggers.
  • Turn on your headlights if signs instruct you to do so. Motorists are required to travel with their headlights turned on in all posted work zones, not just active work zones. It is necessary for drivers in vehicles with daytime running lights to turn on their headlights to activate their taillights.
  • Maintain a safe distance around vehicles. Don’t tailgate.
  • Use four-way flashers when stopped or traveling slowly.
  • Avoid distractions and give your full attention to the road.
  • Always buckle up.
  • Expect the unexpected.
  • Be patient.

You can find more information on work zone safety, by clicking here.