26 July 2023- Pennsylvania State Police troopers will be trading in their cruisers for construction vehicles this week to help monitor unsafe behaviors like speeding and distracted driving across the Pennsylvania Turnpike system.
‘Operation Orange Squeeze’ is a work zone safety initiative the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission started nearly a decade ago in conjunction with the Pennsylvania State Police to help make the safety of their construction workers and turnpike work crews a top priority. Troopers from Troop T trade in their police cruisers and monitor work zones across the mainline Turnpike from construction vehicles to catch motorists ignoring work zone speed limits.
Last year saw eight reported work zone intrusions in Turnpike work zones, resulting in two injuries. Tragically, 45 Turnpike workers have lost their lives on duty since 1940.
“A key part of our joint mission is our ongoing commitment to safety,” said Mark Compton, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission CEO. “While we implement many safety measures in our work zones for the safety of both our workers and customers, we need drivers to work with us to ensure work zones are safe for everyone. That’s why we urge motorists to slow down and never drive distractedly, especially in work zones.”
In April, the first Operation Orange Squeeze conducted on the Turnpike since before the pandemic resulted in troopers issuing 436 citations, 395 warnings, and two DUI arrests.
“The goal is to make sure people are aware,” said Cpl. Joe May, Pennsylvania State Police Troop T. “It’s not so much the enforcement side of things but the safety aspect and how important it is to slow down.”
In Pennsylvania, there are two distinct programs related to active work zones. Under Title 75, Section 3326, motorists caught by police driving 11 mph or more above the posted speed limit in an active work zone, or who are involved in a crash in an active work zone and are convicted for failing to drive at a safe speed, automatically lose their license for 15 days. Additionally, fines for certain traffic violations — including speeding, driving under the influence, and failure to obey traffic devices — are doubled for active work zones. The law also provides for up to five years of additional jail time for individuals convicted of homicide by vehicle for a crash that occurred in an active work zone.