In 2020, crashes within a work zone in Pennsylvania accounted for 816 injuries and 15 fatalities, including one worker present in the work zone. Improving the safety of workers and the motoring public within work zones needs to be a focus as we work toward the goal of zero fatalities on Pennsylvania roadways.

In order to improve safety within Pennsylvania work zones, on October 19, 2018, the State legislature passed Act 86 of 2018. This legislation enables automated speed enforcement to be used during a 5-year pilot in active work zones that receive Federal aid. The Pennsylvania DOT, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC), and Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) support the operation of this program.

Program Background

Pennsylvania’s AWZSE program involves deploying a mobile unit to an active work zone. This mobile unit detects the speed of each passing vehicle. If a vehicle is traveling at least 11 miles per hour (mph) over the posted speed limit, two images of the front of the vehicle and two images of the rear are captured. The two front images are captured to identify the front plates on commercial vehicles.

PennDOT and PTC determined that a joint program between the two agencies was the best approach. This ensured consistency between programs on each agency’s roadways and consolidated the efforts of program startup. A program administrator team is developing, coordinating, and executing the program on behalf of Pennsylvania DOT and PTC. The program administrator team is also responsible for scheduling the enforcement units, performing quality control checks on the violation database and the field deployments, and developing reporting statistics for the program. A jointly procured system administrator is responsible for all services associated with the field deployments, including speed detection and image capture, violation tracking, violation payment services, and all back-office processes.

Program Details

The system administrator is required to provide two advance warning signs before the location of the enforcement unit. These signs have been developed in coordination with Pennsylvania DOT and PTC and are approved by FHWA. These roll-up signs are 48 x 48 inches and are mounted on portable x-frame sign stands capable of variable heights to ensure visibility over temporary barrier or channelizing devices.

The mobile units used for the program are vehicle-mounted systems capable of detecting speeds and capturing images over a 52-inch glare screen. The units are managed by an operator throughout the enforcement shift. This allows for continued confirmation that advance warning signs remain upright and in place throughout the deployment and that workers remain present during the deployment. A notice identifying the location of the enforcement vehicle at the work zone is affixed to the top of the enforcement vehicle.

Project Selection

Sign reads Active Speed Limit Photo Enforced.The program administrator team reviews historical speed data at the proposed work zone locations to identify areas where excessive speeding is an issue. The team also reviews the traffic control plans to identify any geometric features of the work zone where speeding may cause issues and determines the exposure to the workers. Workers are less protected when behind channelizing devices compared to a barrier. These operational, geometric, and worker exposure considerations all go into project prioritization to ensure the deployments are located where they provide the highest possible safety benefit for motorists and workers.


The first test deployments began in November 2019. These test deployments allowed all parties to further refine their processes, and ensure any issues encountered during this stage did not impact or delay the start of live enforcement. The program entered a mandatory 60-day pre-enforcement period from January to March 2020. Live enforcement began on March 9, 2020, upon expiration of the 60-day pre-enforcement period. As currently established, the program will operate through early 2024.

Deployments are scheduled jointly between the agencies on a weekly basis. Seventeen units are available for deployments across the State, with roughly 10 units available for Pennsylvania DOT roadways and seven units available for turnpike roadways. Each unit is capable of working two shifts per day, generally meaning a day shift and night shift, resulting in a maximum deployment potential of 34 shifts per day.


Between March 9, 2020, and April 30, 2021, the program issued more than 375,000 notices of violation. Approximately 14 percent of those violations have been issued to repeat offenders.

Over the past year and a half, volumes were down and speeds were up during the first few months of operation. Speeds normalized between June and November 2020 as more traffic returned to the roadways, with 20–25 percent of vehicles speeding and 2–5 percent of vehicles excessively speeding.

Analysis of speed data collected from the enforcement units indicated that vehicles are more likely to speed in barrier-protected work zones than channelizer-protected work zones. Through March 31, 2021, the program has deployed 800 units to barrier-protected work zones, half as often as to channelizer-protected work zones (1,600). Yet these deployments to barrier-protected work zones have resulted in 230,000 potential violations—nearly double the number as channelizer-protected work zones (124,000).

Significant reductions in speed have been observed in two specific work zones that AWZSE has been consistently deployed to since program startup. These two work zones saw a 4–6 mph drop in speeds after about six months of AWZSE operation.

In accordance with Act 86 of 2018, the AWZSE program team prepares an annual legislative report for the prior calendar year. This report is submitted to the chairs of the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee and House Transportation Committee. The report includes a general program summary from the prior calendar year as well as legislatively mandated statistics and reporting.


Providing workers and motorists within Pennsylvania work zones with an additional tool to improve safety is the most important part of this program. Pennsylvania DOT, PTC, and PSP are committed to delivering a quality program that benefits the workers and motoring public within Pennsylvania. Improving safety on our roadways is everyone’s responsibility, and this program supports that mission.

For more information, visit or email Dan Farley at, Chad Smith at, Mahmood Shehata at, or Benjamin Snyder at