Saturday, January 30, 2010

Legislation Proposed to Limit Work Zone Cameras

Bills have been introduced into the General Assembly which would change the law regarding 'work zone' speed cameras. The legislation passed last year authorizes speed cameras to be used in work zones on freeways 'regardless of whether workers are present'. The proposed legislation would change this to require workers to be present, meaning 'active' work zones only.

Versions of the legislation have been introduced into the Senate (Senate Bill 124) and the House of Delegates (House Bill 143). The Sponsors of SB124 are Senator Brochin (D, District 42), Senator Kittleman(R, District 9), Senator Zirkin (D, District 11), and the sponsor of HB 143 is Delegate Morhaim (D, District 11).

This legislation does not get us to where many of us would like to be: NO speed cameras. But we think those who oppose speed cameras should support this particular legislation. The reason is that the current law is open to abuse by keeping work zones open long after all work has ceased, or even creating 'artificial' work zones just to collect speed camera revenue. Does that sound crazy? Well, that would require no more dishonesty than the widepsread creation of new school zones solely for the purpose to installing speed cameras which is taking place right now.

The current work zone speed cameras are merely a pilot program, we fully anticipate that program to vastly expand after the 2010 elections, and that is when we will see the rules being bent on those cameras in a serious way. Should what we describe take place, it would no doubt adversely affect traffic congestion on our already strained road system. One might also consider the effect on Maryland's economy. Many of those tickets will go to out of state drivers who will get the tickets 30 days after leaving the state, when their recollection is that they were driving in a perfectly safe manner for conditions. Some of those citations could be for reduced work zones speed limits which an out of town driver might reasonably have thought was not in effect on a freeway work zone which was in fact empty. Hopefully the state will make good use of the approximately $24 it collects after the contractor's fees, because it will be the last money it gets from these irate visitors who will not be returning to spend money here again.

We could debate statistics regarding the safety benefits or lack thereof of work zone cameras, but the simple fact is that worker safety is not an issue if there are no workers. Nonetheless the state administration has made it clear that they DO currently intend to use workzone speed cameras when there are no workers.

There will be a comittee hearing on this February 2nd. If you do not want to see what I have described happen, go to www.mdelect.net, find your state lawmakers, and tell them to support SB124 and HB143, but that what you really think is needed is for them to repeal the speed camera law outright.