Motorists Urged to Drive Safely During Labor Day Holiday

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT) Secretary Bradley L. Mallory and State Police Commissioner Paul J. Evanko are urging motorists to drive safely, plan accordingly and use extra caution in highway construction work zones while traveling during the upcoming Labor Day holiday.

Secretary Mallory said PENNDOT, like many state transportation departments, will make every attempt to remove lane restrictions on interstates and other high-volume expressways for the Labor Day holiday, but some travel restrictions will remain in effect on the larger road projects.

Secretary Mallory urged that motorists should pay particular attention and drive with extra caution through work zones.

"I would ask all motorists to observe posted speed limits in work zones and use extra caution and help us make sure everybody, including highway workers, get to enjoy the traditional last weekend of summer," said Mallory.

In 2001, there were 19 fatalities in work zones in Pennsylvania, eight of which were highway workers. According to PENNDOT, the vast majority of work-zone crashes involve speeding, aggressive driving and tailgating. Earlier this year, Secretary Mallory introduced a number of work-zone safety initiatives that PENNDOT put into place to help lessen the number of work zone crashes.

"We will continue to look nationally and internationally at those work-zone safety procedures that show promise of reducing work-zone crashes, but we call upon the collective efforts of all drivers to do their part to increase work-zone safety," said Mallory.

The safest way to travel through a highway work zone is to stay alert; pay attention to the warning signs; drive the posted speed limit; maintain a safe distance around vehicles; and use four-way flashers when stopped or traveling slowly.

Commissioner Paul J. Evanko said 10 people were killed in highway crashes investigated by state police during last year's official four-day Labor Day holiday driving period.

"Seven of the victims were not wearing seatbelts," Evanko revealed. "I know that we would drastically reduce the number of fatalities on Pennsylvania highways if everyone buckled up every time they get into a vehicle."

In addition to the fatalities, 331 people were injured in the 704 crashes to which state police responded last year. Troopers said 73 of the crashes were alcohol-related, including two of the fatal crashes.

During last year's official holiday driving period, troopers issued 6,505 speeding citations and arrested 245 individuals for driving under the influence.

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