We drive by them all the time as we travel Maryland’s highways: road workers filling in potholes, repaving roads, or making improvements to our transportation infrastructure. Maryland’s highway construction workers put themselves in harm’s way every day — often with little more than a row of orange cones or barrels between themselves and speeding traffic. Same goes for utility workers, traffic police, flaggers and others who work in road construction zones.
However highway workers aren’t the only ones at risk when drivers speed through work zones. Drivers who approach work zones too quickly can fail to safely navigate detours, lane shifts, barriers, construction equipment and other obstacles that come up fast. According to the Maryland SafeZones project, four out of five crash-related injuries in work zones are suffered by motorists themselves.
As a Maryland construction accident lawyer, I’m well aware of the risks that highway workers face in the course of their jobs, day in, day out. I’ve also seen the devastation caused to drivers and passengers who are involved in speed-related car crashes.
Though some citizens decry speed cameras as infringing on their privacy rights, they have proven to be an effective tool for law enforcement in deterring speed-related accidents. That’s the premise behind the Maryland SafeZones project, a joint effort of the Maryland State Police, the State Highway Administration and the Maryland Transportation Authority.
The program uses mobile speed zone cameras mounted on white SUVs to enforce speed limits in Maryland highway work zones around the state. The presence of speed cameras has prompted Maryland drivers to put on the brakes: The program reports an 80-percent reduction in speeding violations since the cameras were first used in work zones beginning in 2010. They also report:
“…work zone-related crashes, fatalities and injuries reached a more than 10-year low: fatalities in work-zone crashes decreased by more than half from nine in 2009 to three in 2012. In the same timeframe, people injured decreased from 827 to 640 and overall work zone crashes decreased from 1,685 to 1,392.”
[Source: Maryland SafeZones, Oct. 10, 2013 ]
All citations are verified by Maryland State Police or the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, depending on the work zone location.
The program reports an average of 12 people killed and 1,484 people injured in work zone crashes each year. So as we all recover from this long Maryland winter and highway construction gets under way: please heed those ROAD WORK AHEAD signs. You only have a few seconds to slow down and make safe driving decisions—before you’re upon the construction site itself.
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