The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced that a team of students from Academy Park High School in Southeast Delco School District, Delaware County, has been selected as the PennDOT District 6 winner for its second Innovations Challenge.
Mentored by teacher Colleen DiMaggio, team members include Cheyenne Phillips and Sahmir Blackwell.
Since last fall, students have been working hard to solve this year's challenge, which asked students to look at innovative methods, aside from laws and educational campaigns, that can be developed in the next five to 10 years to get drivers to slow down in work zones.
"Every day, construction workers on Pennsylvania roadways face a dangerous threat in work zones," said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. 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."
The winning regional team's work zone idea was entitled "Incentivizing the Road". Their innovation was designed to change a motorist's poor driving habits through a reward-based system administered through a smart phone app. Drivers who exhibit safe speeds while driving through an active work zone would be rewarded points that could be redeemed at participating businesses. The students linked the use of an app with the LIDAR or radar system that was approved in the 2018 Automated Speed Enforcement in Work Zones legislation.
Now in its second year, the PennDOT Innovations Challenge invites high school students in grades 9-12 to use their problem-solving, creative and strategic-thinking abilities to solve real-world transportation challenges. The Innovations Challenge aims to not only help students explore actual transportation challenges that PennDOT is facing, but also open their minds to the very real possibility of working for PennDOT after graduation.
"PennDOT's dedicated workers risk their lives every day on our roadways while trying to improve our state's infrastructure, and it is our top priority to keep them safe," said District 6 Executive Kenneth M. McClain. "That is why it is important to allow our next generation of leaders a chance to find innovative solutions to slow drivers down."
Regional winners will now move on to compete in Harrisburg on April 10 for the state championship. The statewide winning team will be awarded $1,500 from the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) to be divided among team members.