Pennsylvania panel advances bill to add cameras to work zones

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 10/12/2015

An effort at the Pennsylvania statehouse to improve safety in active work zones throughout the state has taken the first step toward passage.

In 2014, there were 1,841 crashes that resulted in 24 deaths in work zones throughout Pennsylvania – up from 16 deaths the previous year.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted unanimously to advance a bill to set up a five-year pilot program for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to post speed cameras in active work zones on interstates and the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Automated enforcement cameras would be used to detect drivers exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 11 mph when workers are present. Registered owners of vehicles found in violation would receive $100 fines in the mail. No points would be added to a driver’s record.

Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill, said all revenue from the cameras would be applied for work-zone safety improvements. He also said that a similar program in Maryland reduced speeding in work zones by 85 percent.

“The goal is to save lives of construction workers and motorists alike in these work zones all across the state,” Argall said in prepared remarks.

At the end of the trial period, PennDOT would provide a report to the General Assembly to assess whether to continue the program.

Critics say instead of resorting to automated enforcement cameras they would rather see state police officers posted in work zones. They also note that officers can monitor other dangerous driving behaviors.

“Without having those troopers in those zones and being replaced by a camera, we feel that takes away a certain safety element for the motoring public,” Joe Kovel, president of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, testified during a recent hearing.

The bill, SB840, awaits further consideration on the Senate floor. If approved there, it would move to the House.

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