Speed cameras coming soon to Maryland work zones

| 6/8/2009

As of Oct. 1, vehicles of drivers speeding through Maryland highway construction zones could be in pictures. No, it isn’t a Hollywood promotion for the “Fast and Furious” movie series. A new state law will take effect allowing speed cameras to be posted in construction zones.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association voiced concern about focusing solely on the speed of vehicles in work zones to solve safety worries.

With the backing of Gov. Martin O’Malley, the Maryland General Assembly endorsed authorizing the cameras in works zones on expressways and controlled-access highways throughout the state where the speed limit is at least 45 mph. The enforcement tool also is authorized in school zones.

According to state figures, there were 34 fatalities in work zones during the most recent five-year period – compared with 28 in the previous five-year period. Injuries rose from 4,295 to 4,741 in the same time frame.

The automated cameras snap pictures of vehicles traveling over the posted speed limit. A ticket is mailed to the vehicles’ owners, regardless of who was driving at the time.

Currently, Montgomery County is the only place in the state where cameras are permitted. The enforcement tool can be used on streets in school zones or with speed limits of 35 mph or less.

The statewide bill – SB277 – authorizes fines up to $40 to be handed out to the registered owners of vehicles caught on camera traveling at least 12 mph in excess of the speed limit. The governing body of a jurisdiction will have to approve the cameras.

Profit that any jurisdiction receives from camera-generated tickets will be limited to 10 percent of the town or county’s total revenue. That money could be used solely for local safety programs. Anything left will be routed into the state’s general fund.

Supporters say the speed cameras encourage compliance with the law and saves lives by reducing collisions.

Opponents say speed cameras are an unwarranted intrusion. Others question the claim that cameras are intended solely to keep people safe.

Todd Spencer, OOIDA’s executive vice president, said the state of Maryland would be better served to focus their attention on other aspects of driving in work zones than solely focusing on speeding.

“Speeding in work zones isn’t what actually causes accidents. Driving carelessly or recklessly is what causes accidents. That is where the focus of enforcement should be,” Spencer told Land Line.

Spencer also said it is unrealistic to build speed cameras up to be a “catch all” for highway safety.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Maryland in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.