Construction Company Seeking Bill to Protect Work Zone Employees

July 28, 2023
Wright's goal is to strengthen current laws to protect work zone employees

In May 2020, Josh Bishop was killed on the job in a work zone. A motorist fell asleep behind the wheel and struck the 34-year-old retired Army veteran, killing him instantly. He left behind a wife and a child.

Bishop's death was a wake-up call to his company W.D. Wright Contracting, Inc. to encourage stricter penalties for work zone accidents in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

“This incident spurred on things that had been boiling under the surface in the traffic industry for years,” said Alex Vucelich, Vice President of Business Development for Wright.

Despite Wright requiring all flaggers to undergo training to become certified by the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), training can't help when a driver acts recklessly on the road.

“Across the country, work zone fatalities and crashes are on the rise. 2020 was a particularly bad year with 774 crashes causing 857 fatalities, according to National Work Zone Safety Info Clearinghouse,” Vucelich said.

Wright turned to the Pennsylvania legislature in hopes of strengthening work zone infraction penalties.

“We encourage our flaggers to keep pen and paper on them so they can write down license plate numbers and call local authorities when there is a problem, but right now, people only get a slap on the wrist," Vucelich said. “We decided we need to change how we police ourselves.”

Wright's goal is to strengthen current laws to protect work zone employees.

Senate Bill 614 was under consideration in the Pennsylvania Senate that would add points to an offender’s license, fine the offender up to $1,200, require mandatory safety training, and/or suspend the offender’s license based off the number of infractions that driver has. Wright hopes that the repercussion will bring awareness to the issue and change attitudes about motorists in work zones.

“The leading cause of accidents in work zones is not distracted driving. It is individuals choosing to behave that way. It’s angry, disgruntled drivers. People don’t want to wait,” said Joe Petti, Wright’s vice president of environmental health and safety.

Currently, SB614 is at a standstill in the Pennsylvania Senate. Now, Wright is bringing its fight to Ohio.

On June 26, Vucelich traveled to Fremont to meet with State Rep. Gary Click to discuss the possibility of introducing a similar bill in the Ohio legislature.

“I was meeting with Representative Click in the hopes of getting legislation proposed that would better protect the working women and men who are providing traffic control on the roadways of Ohio,” Vucelich said.

Click was fully supportive of Wright’s efforts to better protect Ohio’s workers. Because July and August are in-district work months, the bill cannot be formally addressed until the legislators return in September. For now, Click is seeking input from all interested parties before introducing the bill.



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