ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A work group created by Gov. Wes Moore to create safer roadway work zones announced final recommendations on Friday, such as deploying more state police in work zones and increasing fines for speeding.
The recommendations include legislative, budgetary and administrative changes that also include lowering the temporary work zone speed limits, conducting more on-site inspections of work conditions, as well as adding more unmanned speed enforcement cameras and making sure current cameras are working.
Moore created the panel, chaired by Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller, after two speeding vehicles collided on Interstate 695 in March, sending one into a construction zone and killing six workers in March.
“This year alone, there were more than 1,100 crashes along Maryland work zones,” Miller said, citing the importance of the safety recommendations. “That’s more than three crashes every single day.”
Some of the recommendations will go into effect immediately, such as increasing Maryland State Troopers in work zones, implementing an educational work zone safety campaign across Maryland schools, and the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office is providing $500,000 for new work zone safety initiatives, Moore said.
Standing behind Moore and Miller while they addressed the final recommendations were transportation experts, law enforcement, contractors, emergency responders and construction workers, who were all members of the work group.
Family members of two highway workers who were killed in the I-695 crash stood with them. Their family members who died were Mahlon Simmons III, 31, and his father, Mahlon Simmons II, 52.
“Everyone of us plays a part in work zone safety,” Miller said. “Every one of us has a responsibility to ensure riders and all work and construction sites reach their most important destination: home.” Since its inception in April, the group had met more than 18 times, Miller said.
Miller, who has 25 years of experience as a transportation engineer, chairs the group, and other leaders include Teri Soos, the Maryland State Highway Administration Deputy Administrator, and Chrissy Nizer, the administrator of the Maryland Vehicle Administration.
In late September, the group sought public input through an online survey that contained six questions about driver behavior in work zones and reactions to changes in work zone practices and citation enforcement.
More than 2,200 people responded to the survey and 66% of the respondents said they would slow down if work zone speed fines increased. Speeding tickets in work zones are $40 in Maryland, which Miller said is the lowest rate in the nation.
Another 69% of survey respondents said they supported adding more speed enforcement cameras in work zones. Both of these survey replies were used for the final recommendations.
As legislative and administrative changes take effect, Moore said a change in culture is also required. He said it should not have taken a tragedy to prompt a transformation, and he is calling on Maryland drivers to do their part.
“Slow down, follow the laws and drive as if it’s a member of your family who [is] working in these work zones,” Moore said.