SHA offers limits on work zone speed cameras
The State Highway Administration is moving to address some of the concerns about its use of speed cameras in work zones without dropping its opposition to proposals to limit their use to times when workers are present.
Last week, SHA Administrator Neil J. Pedersen testified against a bill offered by Sen. James Brochin, a Baltimore County Democrat, that would write such a limit into the law authorizing the use of speed cameras.
But Pedersen also wrote a letter to Brochin outlining changes to the agency's speed camera program to address some oof the issues raised by proponents of the bill.
Pedersen told Brochin he has instructed his traffic engineers to review the work zones in which cameras are now deployed to determine whether the construction activities that led to creation of the zone have been completed. He also said the SHA would also ensure that the cameras are used only along the stretches of the work zones where the construction has actually affected the safety of travel -- for instance where lanes are constricted of shoulders closed.
The highway chief also pledged to review the schedules for deploying speed cameras too make sure they are used only for reasons of safety. Pedersen also said the SHA would launch a marketing campaign to assure that drivers know the work zones are in effect at nights and on weekends, as well as during weekdays.
Pedersen said work zones are still areas of heightened danger even when workers are not present. He noted that the zones routinely involve lane shifts and Jersey walls being placed at the edge of travels lanes, as well as rough pavement.
According to Pedersen, drivers and passengers -- rather than workers -- account for 80 percent of the fatalities from crashes in work zones. He said the crash rate in work zones is roughly three times as high as in similar stretches of highways without work zones.
"We feel that it is essential that SHA retain the ability to used automated speed enforcement in work zones that have serious safety issues, both when workers are present and when they are not present," Pedersen wrote.
Brochin's bill has not yet come to a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.