More than 100 motorists felt the sting of Operation Yellow Jacket on Interstate 79 Friday.
PennDOT and state police partnered for the undercover operation to crack down on speeding through work zones.
As part of the program, state troopers disguised as PennDOT workers observe motorists’ speeds on the highways. The information is radioed to a trooper on traffic patrol who pulls over the speeding vehicle and issues a citation.
“I was extremely pleased with the success of Operation Yellow Jacket,” PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan said Tuesday. “I thought within the time frame they wouldn’t get anywhere near the citations they did.”
While Friday’s program took place on I-79 North, drivers can expect to encounter Operation Yellow Jacket setups at highway construction sites throughout PennDOT’s District 11, which covers Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties.
“With more than 100 projects in our district, motorists can be assured that additional enforcement efforts like Operation Yellow Jacket will be employed throughout 2011,” Cowan said.
Things kicked off around 10:30 a.m. Friday in Wexford. Sitting in a yellow PennDOT truck and dressed in a yellow vest and hard hat, Cpl. Kevin Brown used a radar gun to clock speeders. He radioed to troopers farther down the highway to pull over the speeding motorists.
Cowan said troopers cited 45 motorists for speeding during the three-and-a-half-hour operation and two others for other violations. Another 52 motorists were warned for speeding, he said.
“We were really thrilled with how the operation went, and I was glad they did issue some warnings,” he said. “I don’t think any of us just want to see a blanket of tickets being written.”
Speeding through construction zones endangers drivers and puts workers in danger, Cowan said. He noted that three contractors and one PennDOT worker were killed in work zone crashes across Pennsylvania last year.
“Sometime the workers are mere inches away from the traffic,” he said. “One false step or just a one-second lapse of concentration from the driver can mean a fatality.”
Most often though, he said, it’s drivers or passengers who die in accidents. When traveling through work zones,drivers should drive slowly, avoid distractions, turn on headlights and allow additional time to get to their destination, he said. Drivers also should expect the unexpected when traveling through work zones.
“Not only do we as motorists need to be concerned with our concentration, but with our own safety,” he said.