- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Speed cameras placed in work zones around the Capital Beltway have raked in more than $3 million in fines in just six months, but some Maryland officials worry that the tickets aren’t doing enough to discourage repeat offenders.

In July, Maryland’s State Police, Department of Transportation (MDOT) and State Highway Administration set up speed cameras in work zones along Interstates 95 and 495 in Prince George’s County.

Since then, the SafeZones Program has issued 75,000 citations, fining speeders $40 for exceeding the 55 mph speed limit by 12 mph or more.

“To be frank with you, I thought there would be more tickets,” said John Townsend, spokesman for the AAA MidAtlantic automobile owners club. “When I looked for the numbers, I expected to have 100,000 tickets.”

According to a 2016 MDOT study, about 6.3 million motorists use the Beltway each month, so 75,000 speeders represent a small fraction of the highway’s traffic. However, a sizable portion of those speedsters have been cited and fined multiple times in the SafeZones.

“Thirty-nine percent of drivers ticketed are repeat offenders,” Mr. Townsend said, noting that is the same percentage the Wall Street Journal found during an investigation of speed cameras two years ago.

The State Highway Administration said in an email that the main goal for SafeZones is to “slow drivers in work zones to make work zones safer for our workers, drivers and passengers.” With the program now reporting a 90 percent reduction in work zone speeding statewide, that aspect of the program could be considered a success.

But the cameras apparently have had little effect on repeat speed demons. One reason could be that SafeZones fines motorists $40 regardless of how many times they are caught speeding and the fines do not impact a driver’s record or insurance.

The fines system may have been a boon for generating revenue — AAA estimates that Maryland has collected $112 million in fines since its speed-camera program began in 2010. But it also means that work zones remain a dangerous place for drivers and workers alike. Last year, six people died in work zone crashes in the state.

AAA is not the only one looking at this fast and furious trend. In Maryland’s General Assembly, Delegate Mark Chang, Anne Arundel Democrat, introduced this month a bill calling for fines against repeat speeders to double.

The bill, HB0014 or “Vehicle Laws — Work Zone Speed Control System — Increased Penalty for 3 Multiple Offenses,” proposes fining drivers $80 for their third ticket in the same year.

The State Highway Administration was unable to comment on the bill, but a spokesperson confirmed that the agency is aware of it.

The bill is scheduled to receive a hearing Jan. 25.

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