(January 10, 2013) -- The Maryland SafeZones program, which allows the Maryland State Police (MSP) and Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MDTA) to enforce speed limits in highway construction zones with automated (cameras) equipment, is now publishing calibration certifications and daily verification tests on the internet. The additional documentation provides the public with accessible, real-time information on the accuracy of SafeZones speed cameras located in highway work zones around the state. Certifications by MRA Digital, an independent laboratory from Columbia, Md. are available at www.safezones.maryland.gov
. In addition to the results of the independent calibration review, daily tests are conducted by the operators before each deployment of the SafeZones equipment. Results of those tests will also be available on the internet by the end of the month.
“It is important that people have confidence in the accuracy and validity of the equipment and fairness of the SafeZones program. The use of cameras in the highway work zones has been extremely effective at slowing drivers down in construction areas,” said Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel Marcus Brown. “The use of cameras is also much safer than using traditional enforcement measures in the confined space of a highway work zone and it frees officers up to focus on emergency response and crime prevention.”
Maryland SafeZones equipment uses laser technology to detect speed of passing vehicles and after determining a vehicle is exceeding the speed limit by 12 or more mph, takes photographs to identify the vehicle and license plate. MSP and MDTA officers review citations before they are issued as an added check of the technology and accuracy of the violation.
“Statistics clearly show that the SafeZones cameras are getting motorists to slow down in highway construction areas,” said State Highway Administrator Melinda B. Peters. “Lower speeds have reduced the number of work zone crashes and injuries. With this success, it is incumbent upon us to ensure public confidence in the SafeZones program. These additional measures announced today will provide citizens more information about the technology.”
Maryland reached a 10-year low for work zone crashes. Based on the last three years, fatalities from work-zone crashes decreased by more than half; from nine in 2009 to three in 2011. In the same timeframe, the number of people injured decreased from 827 to 688 and overall work zone crashes decreased from 1,685 to 1.486. The majority of people injured or killed in work zone crashes are those traveling along the highway, not workers.
SHA credited, in part, the Maryland SafeZones automated speed enforcement program. Since the program’s official launch in 2010, speeding violations in SafeZones construction sites have decreased by 70-90 percent. When the program was first introduced, approximately seven to eight out of every 100 drivers in a work zone were exceeding the speed limit by 12 mph or more; currently less than two drivers out of every 100 are receiving citations for excessive speeding.
“We have a great responsibility to ensure the safety of our motorists, work crews and police officers, particularly within an eight-mile work zone where we’re constructing Express Toll Lanes on I-95 in northeast Baltimore. The SafeZones program has effectively raised the bar in meeting this responsibility,” said MD Transportation Authority Executive Secretary Harold Bartlett. “Our responsibility for public confidence and transparency is just as great. Putting the speed cameras’ calibration reviews and daily tests online places this information in our citizens’ hands.”
“Since the implementation of the speed camera system in Maryland’s highway construction work zones three years ago, fatalities have declined 67 percent, crashes are down 16.8 percent, and the number of persons injured has fallen 11.8 percent, state figures show,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs [in a news release]. “We continue to see real progress in highway work zone safety across the state. Simple safety efforts such as slowing down, observing posted speed limit signs, avoiding distractions, such as talking or texting on a cell phone, preparing for unusual driving conditions, and practicing patience can reduce a motorist’s crash risk in a work zone.”
Lane restrictions and other hazards in a work zone make it imperative for drivers to stay alert and obey the posted speed limit. Driving too fast for conditions reduces a driver’s ability to steer safely around curves or objects in the roadway, extends the distance necessary to stop a vehicle, and increases the distance a vehicle travels while a driver reacts to a dangerous situation.