Although ticketed motorists might disagree, it was a banner year for Marylandâ€™s work zone speed camera program. In its third year of operation, the Maryland SafeZones automated speed enforcement program generated nearly a half million citations to motorists going at least 12 miles per hour over the posted construction zone speed limit during 2011, notes AAA Mid-Atlantic. The face value of the 473,708 citations is $18.9 million.
The first mobile work zone camera units stationed along the Capital Beltway in Silver Spring generated nearly 31,000 speeding tickets to motorists, during the period from August 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011, observes AAA Mid-Atlantic. Statewide, the program has issued just shy of one million tickets since its inception three years ago, the auto club calculates.
However, the success and the purpose of Marylandâ€™s work zone camera program have sparked debates about the fairness of issuing tickets to motorists, especially when highway construction workers are not present in the work zone. As Maryland legislators, motorists, talk show hosts, and editorial writers take sides, a hearing on the measure will be held next Tuesday in Annapolis. In fact, concerns about the statewide automated enforcement program have come to the fore during the 2012 Maryland General Assembly session, as lawmakers file nearly a dozen bills designed to tweak Marylandâ€™s controversial automated enforcement law, and as complaints from motorists mount.
â€œAlthough motorists arenâ€™t as apt to break the posted speed limit when they sense speed cameras are present, they are also clearly bothered by the fact that they can be slapped with a speeding citation while driving through a work zone during the hours when no workers are present on the site and even if no work is taking place, including on legal holidays,â€ said John B. Townsend II, AAAMid-Atlanticâ€™s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. â€œBased upon a previous study, 63 percent of the work zone tickets were issued when workers were not present in the work zone, according to the chief sponsor of the Senate bill. However, similar bills to this effect have met with defeat in the past.â€
The final tab shows 30,886 speeders were nabbed in the I-495 work zone during the last five months of 2011, and mobile enforcement vehicles are continuing to rotate along the site, the citation history shows. The results suggest the presence of the cameras is modifying driving behavior on the Capital Beltway between University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue, notes the auto club. The units issued 12,001 tickets in August and motorists took notice, with the number of tickets falling to a low of 3, 963 in November. However, the number of tickets increased to 5,569 in December.
In contrast, work zone camera units posted along Maryland 295 at I-195 (the Baltimore-Washington Parkway) in Anne Arundel County generated 62,490 speeding tickets in the eight-month span from December 1, 2010 to July 31, 2011. Yet Marylandâ€™s most prolific work zone camera units were situated in Baltimore County, along I-95 North and South (from I-695 to I-895). During 2011, the work zone cameras generated 236,305 citations. Curiously, it only cited 47 motorists for speeding during December. Thatâ€™s according to the citation information from the Maryland State Police, the Maryland Transportation Authority, and the Maryland State Highway Administration.