Cameras in work zones nab more than 750,000 drivers

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Local,Maryland,Transportation,Ben Giles
Speed cameras in Maryland's highway work zones have issued more than 750,000 tickets and brought in more than $30 million in revenue over the last two years.

The cameras have issued 767,697 citations since the program started in September 2009, according to data from the Maryland State Highway Administration. At $40 a ticket, speeding has cost drivers $30.7 million in fines.

Calling the state's effort "the least controversial of the photo enforcement programs," AAA Mid-Atlantic found that motorists are slowing down to an average of 5 mph over the speed limit in work zones as more motorists begin to hit the brakes around construction crews.

Eye in the sky
Tickets issued at some major work zones in the area:
LocationTickets issued*
Capital Beltway between Route 650 and Route 193, Silver Spring20,678
Interstate 95 between Route 198 and Route 21213,554
I-270 at Route 48011,907
Baltimore-Washington Parkway at I-19550,275
I-95between I-695 and I-895211,793
* As of October

Studies have shown a 50 percent reduction in the number of drivers who average 10 mph or more in those work zones, according to David Buck, highway administration spokesman.

"Maryland's work zone speed cameras are having the desired effects: decreasing the number of speeders in highway construction zones in the region and across the state and reducing the number and the severity of crashes in the work zones," said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend.

Mobile speed cameras in the work zone between New Hampshire Avenue and University Boulevard on the Capital Beltway in Silver Spring, which went up this spring, caught 21,100 motorists in their first three months alone.

The program has generated about $16.3 million in revenue for the Maryland State Police, according to Buck. Officials are waiting on another $7 million or so in unpaid tickets, while the remaining revenue funds the operation of the program such as equipment maintenance and warning signs, he said.

Unlike other speed camera programs, the work zone enforcement runs around the clock. Most programs, such as those in school zones in Prince George's County, are shut off at hours when pedestrian traffic is limited.

The 24/7 nature of the speed cameras has drawn criticism from State Sen. James Brochin, D-Baltimore County, who plans to reintroduce legislation to have the cameras shut off during hours when workers aren't present.

Ron Ely, editor of StopBigBrotherMD.org, said most of the tickets issued by the state's program are drivers caught speeding during non-work hours.

But state highway officials said work zones still post dangers to motorists without the presence of construction workers - dangers that are exacerbated by speeding drivers.

"It's a pretty fair allowance of 12 mph over the limit in the law," Buck said. "When you're in these work zones, whether workers are in it or not, there's still reduced lane widths, buffers, and everything that makes it a work zone."

bgiles@washingtonexaminer.com

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Ben Giles

Staff Writer - Crime Beat
The Washington Examiner