FREDERICK, Md. – A new work-zone speed camera will be deployed along route 340 and Route 15 between Interstate 70 and Mt. Zion Road near Ballenger Creek in Frederick County next month.
It’s part of the 11th SafeZones Program location in Maryland, including two closer to the Washington metro region along I-95 at Contee Road and I-95 south between Route 198 and the Intercounty Connector in Prince George’s County.
For three weeks, drivers going 12 mph over the speed limit in the work zone will receive a warning. Starting Nov. 26, the warnings will turn into $40 tickets sent in the mail.
Lora Rakowski of the Maryland State Highway Administration says an SUV with a speed camera will enforce the speed limit, which has been dropped from 65 mph to 55.
“It’s being dropped because of the nature of the work going on here,” she says. “There will be several signs approaching the area and a digital speed trailer with the lower speed limit to alert drivers to their speed before the camera.”
So the magic number for a ticket is 67 mph, which is important because drivers are used to the typical 65-mph speed limit.
Crews are building a new interchange to get commuters to the Jefferson Technology Park in the area more quickly and safely. The project should be completed next summer, although the SUV-mounted camera may not necessarily remain there the entire time. Maryland has 11 SafeZone Program locations and seven camera-mount vehicles, which are rotated among the construction sites without notice.
Drivers should also be aware that the rules for work-zone speed cameras are different than the traditional school-zone speed cameras drivers might see across Maryland. Under Maryland law, school zone speed cameras can only operate from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday to Friday, but work-zone cameras can operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Critics of speed cameras have questioned whether it’s fair to allow the cameras to operate at all hours, saying it’s unfair to ticket drivers when construction workers aren’t even present in the work zone.
“That’s a fair question,” Rakoswki says. “I would guess that most drivers don’t realize that in four out of five work zone related crashes, it’s actually the driver or the passenger that’s injured. Work zones present hazardous areas with little margin for error. You’re going to find jersey walls, narrow lanes, lane shifts, uneven pavement, dust, equipment and distractions. It really requires the driver’s full attention at all hours of the day and night.”
According to the State Highway Administration, work zone-related fatalities and injuries have fallen since the cameras were first deployed in 2009. Last year, three people died in work zones and 640 people were injured. The number of injuries and overall crashes have also dropped about 20 percent.
However, the work zones still pose safety risks. In 2007, State Highway Administration worker Richard Moser was hit and killed when a driver sped through a work zone on Carroll Boyer Road in Middletown, Md.
The current project is about six miles from the spot where the accident took place. The Moser family has played an active role promoting work zone safety and the use of speed cameras to protect construction workers.
The State Highway Administration reports the two cameras along I-95 at Contee Road and between Route 198 and the ICC have generated 34,169 tickets through Sept. 30. Cameras have been located at the Contee Road project since July 2012 and between Route 198 and the ICC since last December.
If you receive a ticket, you can challenge the ticket in court. You’ll receive a court date and are required to appear in the District Court of Maryland in the county where you received the speeding ticket.