New bill could help keep highway workers safe

Local News

Transportation officials are hoping that a new law will make work zones on Pennsylvania’s highways safer.

Matt Heckel reported on the technology they plan to use from the capitol.

“In the past 10 years or so, close to 1,200 workers have lost their lives in work zones on our highways,” said Bob Scaer, CEO of Gannett Fleming.

Which is why Governor Wolf signed House Bill 1958. It will allow the use of automated work zone vehicles by PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission.

“The bill is really going to enhance safety,” said Carl DeFebo, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. “Specifically for some of our workers who are working in certain types of work vehicles along the turnpike.”

The bill also allows for platooning, which uses technology to link two or three buses, military vehicles, or commercial trucks on the interstate.

“That means there’s a driver in the first tractor trailer, and then essence an invisible link between the next two vehicles, where they basically follow along the tail of that vehicle,” said DeFebo.

The lead truck driver controls the speed and motion of the other trucks. Supporters say it lowers fuel consumption and improves safety, with 94 percent of traffic accidents caused by human error.

“This is really all about making sure our employees get home safely at the end of the day,” DeFebo said.

As part of the bill, PennDOT will establish a highly automated vehicle advisory committee to evaluate the new law and look at ways to continue using automated vehicles in the future.

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