North Allegheny Students Win Statewide Innovation Challenge

Came up with an app to make drivers pay attention to speeds in work zones

Does a public service announcement or the threat of a fine make you slow down in highway work zones? The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has proof that they don't. So each year they have what they call an Innovations Challenge which asks high school students to come up with solutions, other than laws and educational campaigns, that can be developed in the next five to 10 years to get drivers to slow down.

A team from North Allegheny High School in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh are the winners of this year's contest. Leela Pinnamaraju and Isha Das (pictured with PennDOT secretary Leslie Richards) developed the "Safe Drive" app, which would allow users to see their work zone violations in real time. The app's interface would reward drivers with points for good behavior and penalize drivers for violations.

23 people were killed in work-zone crashes in PA in 2018. Since 1970, 89 PennDOT workers have been killed on the job

´┐ŻEvery day, construction workers on Pennsylvania roadways face a dangerous threat in work zones," said Richards. "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."

"We challenged our next generation of leaders to become an active part of the solution by developing innovative ways to tackle this transportation issue." -- PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards

Runners up were a team from North Schuylkill Jr./Sr. High School in Schuylkill County, and Seneca Valley Senior High School in Butler County.

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