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Speed cameras proposed in work zones along Pennsylvania highways

Wes Venteicher
| Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, 12:33 p.m.
A radar message sign informs drivers of their speed as they pass through a construction zone on Route 65 near Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
A radar message sign informs drivers of their speed as they pass through a construction zone on Route 65 near Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016.

State lawmakers are working on proposals to install speed cameras in work zones along Pennsylvania highways.

A House version of the bill would fine speeders $40, while a Senate bill would fine them $100, said state Rep. Jim Marshall, R-Beaver Falls, sponsor of the House bill.

“I just think that having these cameras will change driving habits, and I think people will tend to slow down,” Marshall said.

The five-year pilot program proposed in the House bill would apply only to major construction projects with concrete barriers on sides of highways that receive federal funding, Marshall said.

The legislation is an attempt to reduce traffic accidents and worker deaths in work zones, he said. In 2016, 16 people were killed in 2,075 work-zone accidents, according to a PennDOT news release.

Marshall said the Pennsylvania Turnpike reported 352 such accidents in 2016, 269 in 2015 and 241 in 2014.

The legislation, House Bill 1748 , is in the early draft stages, Marshall said. Legislators haven't decided how many cameras would be installed or by how much drivers would have to exceed speed limits to be ticketed. Lawmakers have discussed setting the threshold at 12 mph over the posted limit, he said.

Maryland started using speed cameras in work zones in 2010, according to a fact sheet the state posted to its website. The program imposes $40 fines on drivers who exceed the speed limit by 12 mph. Seven of every 100 drivers exceeded the speed limit by that much before cameras were installed, but the number dropped to one per 100 with the cameras, according to the site.

Six people lost their lives in Maryland work-zone crashes in 2015, and preliminary data showed the same number died in 2016, according to the site. The Maryland site says that nationally, more drivers and passengers are killed or injured in work zone crashes than construction workers because of more challenging driving conditions such as lane shifts, narrow lanes, concrete barriers and uneven pavement.

The proposal would require that the cameras be turned off when there isn't work going on and would include an appeal process for people who suspect they were erroneously ticketed, he said.

“I think we did everything possible to make it less burdensome on the motorist. We're really just trying to get people to slow down,” he said.

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676, wventeicher@tribweb.com or via Twitter @wesventeicher.

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