Highway officials, construction workers warn of distracted driving in work zones

LOWER SWATARA TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. - Construction season is right around the corner, which means work zones will be popping up on roadways across Pennsylvania. Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and construction workers came together to remind people to not drive distracted and stay alert in work zones.

"We are giving you a highway that's safe and good to drive on. You deserve that," said Michael Kates, Turnpike Maintenance Operator. "But we deserve to go home everyday to our kids, and our dogs, and our cats and our significant others and everything like that."

Kates knows first-hand the dangers construction workers face on the job.

"I should not be here," said Kates. "You are talking to a dead man walking."

Two and a half years ago, Kates and his partner were performing a sweeping operation on the Turnpike when they were hit by a tractor trailer.

"He'll never work again, he'll never play with his grandkids again," said Kates. "He can't even teach t-ball or volunteer at his church again, he's partially bedridden."

Kates, along with the Commission and construction workers are reminding everyone to put down their phones, food and drinks and not get distracted by what's going on in your car.

"That 3,000 pound vehicle is not a match against a 160 pound man or human being," said John Wozniak, Turnpike Commissioner. "So slow down, pay attention to what's out there. Don't text and drive and let everybody get home every evening."

By the end of construction season cameras will be up in work zones. People driving more than 11mph over the work zone speed limit will receive a fine of up to $100.

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