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Editor's Notebook May 2023

Craig Mongeau - Editor in Chief - May 2023


Recently, six Maryland highway workers were killed on the job when a driver of an Acura struck them along a stretch of I-695 outside Baltimore. According to police, the driver was trying to change lanes when she struck the "front corner panel" on the passenger side of another vehicle and careened into a work zone between the Jersey barriers, hitting the workers before her car flipped over.

I've been writing in this space for quite a while about the dangers of highway work, which of course, you know all about, as well. This job should not be as dangerous as a police officer's job. Highway workers and their families shouldn't have to worry about whether or not they'll make it home after their shift. It should not have to be that kind of job, but it nonetheless is because of selfishness (if not self-absorption), carelessness, risky driving maneuvers, distractions and so on and so forth. I mean, all it takes is a rudimentary imagination to envision yourself as the person on the side of the road and act as if you are. But what's being done to minimize the threat to highway workers' lives?

Well, at the start of National Work Zone Awareness Week from April 17 through April 21, the New York State launched the Automated Work Zone Speed Monitoring Pilot Program and Campaign.

The pilot program was established by legislation signed into law by Gov. Hochul and for the first 30 days of the pilot, beginning on April 17, speeding motorists have been issued warning Notices of Liability, with actual Notices being issued 30 days after the initial rollout.

Under the program, all vehicles detected violating the posted speed limit within a work zone by over an established threshold will be fined. License plate images and speed data collected will be sent to NYSDOT and the Thruway within a week, with violation fines issued to the vehicle's registered owner by mail.

Fines through the pilot program are:

  • $50 for the first violation;
  • $75 for the second violation; and
  • $100 for the third and subsequent violations within 18 months of the first violation.

While this is at least an attempt to thwart reckless driving through work zones, that's not a lot of money for acting in a way that could jeopardize someone's life. But I'm a firm believer in you have to do something to solve the problem and assisting already over-burdened law enforcement officers. Using technology is a start to help them and saving lives is a good start. P