Driving through Maryland yesterday, I noticed some pretty intense work zones. You know, the ones with no less than a dozen traffic signs alerting drivers of an upcoming work zone policed by speed tracking cameras. These were no ordinary work zones – they were the Arnold Schwarzenegger of work zones. Consisting of 100 large cones on either shoulder, radar signs alerting each lane’s drivers of their speed (as if the radar detector wasn’t literally yelling at this point already) which flashed when the speed exceeded 5 mph over the posted limit, an overhead sign that flashed alternating yellow lights when considerably over the speed limit, and a few signs indicating that there was a hidden camera that’d snap an Instagram-worthy photo of your plates should you consider speeding through this work zone.
And to top it all off – there was no one working. The work zone was as empty as a commuter’s wallet after taking the Express Lanes during rush hour on a Friday. But so often you see work zones with more orange cones than road workers – often for months with seemingly no pulse (including that of the inevitably dead deer that’s been catching some eternal ZZZ’s on the shoulder nearby).
So it begs the question – are speed cameras enforcing work zone speed limits when no one is actually working? Drumroll please………
Yes. Work Zone Speed Cameras do issue tickets – even if no one is working (that includes the weekend).
“Yes. Citations may be issued regardless of whether workers are present in the work zone.” – Safezones.
As if it was a surprise the government wanted to suck more money out of taxpayers, these cameras work even when the people don’t. But before you join in me casting stones at Maryland’s State Highway Administration, there’s a reason the madness. According to the Safezone’s website, “Four out of five crash-related injuries in work zones are suffered by motorists.” So these speed enforcement cameras are more for the safety of drivers rather than construction workers.
The Safezone’s website offers this supporting evidence:
- Over the last 10 years, there has been an average of 12 people killed and 1,484 people injured in work zone-involved crashes each year.
- Four out of every five people killed or injured in work zone crashes are drivers or passengers
- Major contributing factors to work zone crashes are not paying attention, going too fast for conditions, failure to yield the right-of-way and following too close.
So now that you know these things can always be working, how fast would you have to be going to get the ticket worth $40 bucks and zero license points? “Transportation Article § 21-810, effective Oct. 1, 2009 allows the use of cameras to fine drivers exceeding speeding by 12 mph or more in work zones along controlled access roadways with a 45 mph or higher speed limit.” For those who don’t math, you’d need to be travelling 57mph in a 45mph work zone (and in a 50mph work zone, that would be 62mph – you get it) to be featured in MHSA’s Instagram feed (kidding – you just get a ticket in the mail). Accidentally setup a drag races through a work zone? You’d only be ticketed if you red lined past the sports utility vehicles equipped with the cameras. “To maximize the program’s flexibility and impact, the speed cameras used in work zones are deployed in sport-utility vehicles referred to as “mobile ASE units”. A mobile ASE unit can be located within the limits of any work zone on expressways and controlled access highways where the speed limit is 45 mph or greater. As of July 15, 2011, there are seven (7) mobile ASE units that rotate through a series of predetermined work zones throughout the state. The work zone locations are posted online on the Maryland SafeZones website. SHA, MDTA and MSP use a variety of factors to determine camera deployment locations, including roadway and work zone characteristics such as facility type, speed limit, temporary traffic control activities and whether traditional in-person enforcement is viable.”
Wonder where your dollars are headed? They actually tell you as well – “Revenue from the civil fines collected will be used to cover the costs of implementing and administering the Maryland SafeZones program. For the first three years, the balance of revenues after recovering program costs, if any, will go to an account for state police roadside enforcement activities.” That’s right – your Safezone fines go to creating more Safezones.
The circle of Safezones continues *lifts orange cone over Pride Rock*
Think you can get out of the ticket by claiming the speed cameras weren’t calibrated? That may have worked 5 years ago when the local boys in blue nabbed you on the shoulder, but Safezone don’t play dat. The cameras are calibrated annually and self-tested twice a day. “Each ASE system undergoes an annual calibration check by an independent calibration laboratory. Maryland law also requires ASE systems to pass certain self-tests before producing a recorded image each time the ASE system is set up. These system self-tests are performed before each deployment by a trained operator and documented in a daily set-up log. A system self-test is also conducted at the end of each ASE deployment.”
So, you’ve got a ticket, and you need to pay it. You can pay Safezone tickets here: http://www.safezones.maryland.gov/payticket.html