Saturday, January 28, 2012

Legislation to End Workerless Workzone Cameras Reintroduced

Legislation has been introduced to the general assembly which would remove a provision of state law which currently allows freeway "workzone" speed monitoring systems to be used "regardless of whether workers are present".  The proposed legislation (Senate Bill 57   and House Bill 326) would allow the cameras only when a worker is present on the roadway, median divider, or shoulder within or adjacent to the work zone. 

The proposed legislation was introduced last year as Senate Bill 30 and was championed by Senator Jim Brochin.  The bill was killed in committee.  This year the legislation is being sponsored by Senators Brochin(D, District 42), Jacobs(R, District 34), Kittleman(R, District 9), and Stone(R, District 6), and in the house by a bipartisan group of 46 lawmakers : Delegates Frank (R, District 42), Aumann (R, District 42), Bates (R, District 9A), Beitzel(R, District 1A), Boteler(D, District 8), Bromwell(R, District 8), Cluster(R, District 8), Conaway(D, District 40), DeBoy(D, District 12A), Dwyer(R, District 31 ), Eckardt(R, District 37B ), Elliott(R, District 4B ), Fisher(R, District 27B), George(R, District 30), Glass(R, District 34A), Guzzone(D, District 13), Hogan(R, District 3A), Hough(3B, District 3B), Impallaria(R, District 7), Jacobs(R, District 36), Kach(R, District 5B), Kelly(D, District 1B), Kipke(R, District 31), McConkey(R, District 33A), McDermott(R, District 38B), McDonough(R, District 7), Miller(R, District 9A), Minnick(D, District 6), Mitchell(D, District 44), Morhaim(D, District 11), Myers(R, District 1C), Norman(R, District 35A), Olszewski(D, District 6), Otto(R, 38A), Parrott(R, District 2B), Ready(R, District 5A), Robinson(D, District 40), Schuh(R, District 31), Schulz(R, District 4A), Serafini(R, District 2A), Smigiel(R, District 36), Stocksdale(R, District 5A), Szeliga(7, District 7), Vitale(R, District 33A), Weir(D, District 6), Wood(D, District 29A).



The current wording of state law permits citations to be issued on interstate highways in 'workerless' work zones where no actual work has been taking place for an indefinite period of time.  Some workzones have reduced speed limits, even when no work is taking place and all lanes are wide open and un-obstructed.  Data from the SHA website shows that the 'SafeZones' program has issued approximately 849,442 citationsas of 1/24/2012, with cameras now deployed on most of the major interstate highways in the state.  Many of those $33million worth of citations were issued when no workers were present and no work taking place.

The SHA had previously written two reports showing how other types of speed control, "speed display trailers" and "Portable Changeable Message Signs with Speed Display" were extremely effective at reducing average traffic speeds in work zones.... producing average speed reductions of 2-7mph and 5.6-7.9MPH respectively.  This is as good if not better than the speed reductions the SHA has claimed were produced by speed monitoring systems, yet the use of such relatively inexpensive traffic engineering solutions was NOT made standard by the SHA in workzones where speed monitoring systems are NOT in use.

And why should other traffic engineering solutions be considered, when they can treat the every problem as a law enforcement problem and extract money from motorists?  And if the cameras, or the reduced speed limit set to keep cameras profitable, produce a little extra traffic congestion due to overly cautious motorists slamming on the brakes at camera sites  --  all when there is no work taking place and thus no threat to worker safety--  oh well.  It's just a few hundred thousand peoples' time being lost every day for NO safety benefit.  And certainly not for any benefit which according to the SHA's own studies could be achieved in other ways.

Citizens who have an opinion on this legislation can find their own legislators' contact information at www.mdelect.net.