The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) has launched its annual campaign called Operation Orange Squeeze. The campaign targets turnpike workers’ safety since over recent years, more than 30 turnpike employees have died while on the job and in active work zones.
The campaign aims to limit reckless driving in work zones and save lives. It is called Operation Orange Squeeze because the warning signs that indicate to drivers that they are about to enter work zones are orange. The Chief Executive Officer of the PTC urges drivers to obey posted speed limits along the turnpike, avoid all unnecessary driving distractions, such as cell phone use, driving while drowsy, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The consequences for unsafe or illegal driving activities have increased as part of the campaign. When someone speeds they can receive tickets, get points on their license, or accrue fines. Another consequence of driving in an unsafe manner in work zones is a loss or suspension of a driver’s license.
Police officers throughout Pennsylvania have joined with the PTC for the campaign’s yearly launch. Instead of monitoring driver’s from their police vehicles, as they typically do, officers will instead supervise work zones from orange-colored construction vehicles provided by the commission. This will help deter people from speeding and hitting their brakes when they see police cruisers coming up ahead.
The PTC has published reports of turnpike accidents and injuries, which demonstrate the importance of this campaign. In 2015, there were nearly 400 crashes along the turnpike. In the last five years alone, there have been two fatalities of turnpike workers, who were killed while simply performing their job duties. As soon as a vehicle enters an active work zone, the driver is legally responsible for driving at the decreased speed limit. Too often drivers simply slow down when they see a worker on the road, and frequently, it is too late. Decreased speed limits are posted well before the area in which workers are on the road—so there is no excuse for reckless driving.
There are steeper consequences that come along with the campaign. If someone goes more than 11 mph over the speed limit in an active work zone, fines can accumulate up to $200. Another penalty is the five points that can be put on a driver’s license, and even a possible suspension of 15 days. For 10 mph over the limit, fines reach $150.
Working on the turnpike is risky business. There are no protective barriers in place to shield workers’ bodies from impact should a car lose control and collide with them. The campaign illustrates how at just 45 mph, a car can break every bone in a person’s body. At 65 mph, death becomes imminent. This is why speed limits are so much lower in work zones. Workers are given hard hats, but no other protective gear can shield them from accidents. For these reasons, it is even more important for drivers to be particularly careful on the road. These workers have families that they want see at the end of a work day.
If you or a family member has been injured while working on the PA turnpike, we can help. Rick Jurewicz, a Senior Partner at Galfand Berger, has been representing workers who have been victims of turnpike injuries and fatalities for over 30 years. He has achieved some of the largest verdicts and recoveries in the firm’s history, and fights for workers’ safety and rights.
Turnpike workers do their jobs to keep other people safe on the roads. They put their lives and wellbeing at risk, simply by showing up for their jobs. Operation Orange Squeeze not only reminds us that we too play a role in keeping turnpike workers safe, but that too many of them have already lost their lives because of other people’s reckless driving. To check out the campaign and read the statistics, click here. Please be safe and attentive in work zones, and do your part to help each and every turnpike worker return home safely to their families at the end of the day.
The Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at Galfand Berger have successfully represented clients who have suffered turnpike accidents. If you or any of your loved ones have experienced such a situation, an attorney at Galfand Berger, LLP can help. With offices located in Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call Rick at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.