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Our opinion: A need to take it slow on roads

That’s the message from the state Department of Transportation and the Turnpike Commission.Together, they are partnering with the state’s highway construction industry in calling for a safety “stand down” today to prevent job site accidents.

Dubbed “Safer Together,” the agencies are calling upon both the transportation construction industry and the motoring public to focus on work zone safety. This is a worthy effort.

Each year, nearly 50,000 people are injured or killed at transportation project job sites around the nation, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

The vast majority of these accidents are avoidable.

On the construction industry side, improper positioning of employees and equipment and lack of communication and awareness may be to blame.

Just as important is the role of the motoring public and their responsibility to slow down in work zones and put down the phone.

Statewide, work site accidents have increased in recent months, according to Robert Latham, Associated Pennsylvania Constructors executive vice president.

During the 2020 construction year, 15 people were killed in work zone crashes across Pennsylvania, according to PennDOT.

The Turnpike Commission also noted an upswing in unsafe driving habits that began with the pandemic. “During the height of the pandemic, with fewer drivers on the roadway, many who were driving were doing so at excessive rates of speed and using their cell phones more frequently and for longer periods of time,” said Mark Compton, Turnpike CEO.

Now, with increased traffic, the trend of unsafe driving is also rising, he said. “More motorists speeding and driving distractedly can have serious consequences for our roadway teams who can be working inches away from live traffic,” he said.

So slow down — stand down — not just today, but every single time you venture out onto the highway and pass through a work zone.

It’s worth it.

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