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Road crew workers: Higher speed limits raise work injury risk

Construction workers in Pennsylvania who are employed by road maintenance companies worry that increasing speed limits to 70 miles per hour on interstate highways will increase their risk of work injury and death. According to road workers, their main concern is that speed limits will be increased to 55 mph in work zones. One worker commented that a small barrier wall will not be sufficient to protect his colleagues and him in the event of a motor vehicle accident that happens at 55 mph.

Nevertheless, in spite of construction workers' worries, the speed limit increase will go into effect throughout Pennsylvania in August. The regular speed limit will be increased to 70 mph and the work zone limit will be increased to 55 mph.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps track of workers who die each year in highway work zone accidents. In one instance, a flagman was hit and killed by a student driver who told police he fell asleep while operating his vehicle. Co-workers were devastated by the incident and by the loss of their good friend and colleague.

Unfortunately, no matter what the speed limit is on the interstates in Maryland and other areas of the nation, road crew employees will always be at risk of suffering a fatal work injury. In the event that such a tragic accident takes place, the worker's family may be entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits to help pay for expenses such as funeral and memorial service costs as well as lost income resulting from the death of their family member.

Source: WNEP 16, "Highway Construction Workers Nervous About Higher Speed Limits" Dave Bohman, Jul. 25, 2014

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