Norwin student project picked in PennDOT worker safety contest
An idea to keep highway construction workers safer through the use of laser technology led to two Norwin High School students being rewarded by PennDOT.
Emily Jumba and Hannah Jackson, mentored by math teacher Thomas Harskowitch, won the recent Innovations Challenge sponsored by PennDOT District 12 in Uniontown, with its “Laser Technology Solution to Speeding and Safety for Construction Workers.”
“The brainstorming process started in December and the students have been working on it since then,” Harskowitch said.
By expanding upon the idea of the laser timers used in the Pinewood Derby to calculate the speed of wooden race cars as they cross the finish line, the students said larger and more durable timers could be installed in work zones to calculate and record the speeds of vehicles traveling through a work zone. That data would be linked to an alert system for the construction workers. The information also could be paired with new cameras placed in work zones to photograph license plates of speeding vehicles.
Instead of just having the information that a person was speeding, data can be recorded as to by how much they were violating work zone laws, the students said.
They also proposed creating an app to locate local construction areas, track drivers speeds in work zones, and collect credits to be used towards E-ZPass accounts. To provide further incentive for drivers to slow down in work zones, the students suggested the app could be used to provide a three-cent E-ZPass credit for every five safe passes through a work zone.
PennDOT challenged students in the region to devise a method that can be developed in the next five to 10 years to slow down drivers in work zones, separate from laws and various educational campaigns. The Innovations Challenge requires high school students to use problem-solving, creative and strategic-thinking abilities to solve real-world transportation challenges, PennDOT said.
“Despite increased enforcement efforts, work zone signage and smartphone alerts, drivers continue to commit traffic violations in work zones, which can lead to crashes or tragically someone being killed,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “We challenged our next generation of leaders to become an active part of the solution by developing innovative ways to tackle this transportation issue.”
Regional winners will compete for the state championship in Harrisburg on April 10. The statewide winners will be awarded $1,500 from the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Traffic Safety Services Association.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .