Cumberland Times-News

June 10, 2013

Safety first

Use of speed cameras in work zone good idea


Cumberland Times-News

— We aren’t big fans of traffic speed cameras — given their questionable accuracy and a propensity by government to use speeding fines as yet another way to hit up the public for money — but the idea for cameras in the construction zone on Interstate 68 is a good one.

The cameras were placed into use yesterday in Allegany County on eastbound Interstate 68 in the area west of U.S. Route 220 to east of Kelly Road as part of the Maryland State Highway Administration’s SafeZones program.

Beginning Monday, warnings will be issued for an initial 21-day period through June 30. Beginning July 1, drivers excessively speeding by 12 or more mph over the 55 mph speed limit will be mailed a $40 civil citation.

SHA is rehabilitating the I-68 bridges over Kelly Road and Patterson Avenue, a project that includes a complete replacement of the driving surfaces as well as additional work to extend the life of the nearly 50-year-old structures. The $10 million project will feature the Maryland SafeZones automated speed enforcement program as a tool to protect workers, as well as drivers and their passengers.

Anyone who regularly travels I-68 in the vicinity of the Crosstown Bridge knows there is a lot of speeding by motorists — particularly those descending Haystack Mountain in the eastbound lanes.

It’s bad enough that the speeding occurs when the road is open under normal conditions, but throw in the construction projects and the speeding danger is even worse. Construction workers and drivers alike are at risk by speeding.

Since SafeZones launched in 2010, speeding violations in designated work zones have decreased by more than 80 percent. Work zone-related crashes, fatalities and injuries are at a more than 10-year low according to 2011 crash data. The program is deployed in nine other work zones in the state. For more information, go to www.safezones.maryland.gov.

The I-68 work being undertaken on behalf of the SHA still has nearly two years to run. The speed cameras should help keep some of the construction-related driving risks in check.