Speed Camera Fines Could Soar After MD Highway Worker Deaths
Patch reporter Megan VerHelst wrote this story.
ANNAPOLIS, MD — Gov. Wes Moore's administration plans to introduce legislation this year that would significantly increase fines for drivers caught speeding in road construction zones, Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller announced Thursday.
The announcement comes 10 months after six highway workers were killed when a car traveling more than 120 mph struck them on the Baltimore Beltway.
According to Miller's office, the Maryland Road Worker Protection Act of 2024 would increase fines for those caught speeding in a road work zone from $40 to $290. The increased fine would apply to speed camera citations and would match the current amount for a live officer stop for the same offense.
Currently, Maryland's speed camera enforcement fine is among the lowest in the nation, Miller's office said.
"As a transportation engineer, I’ve been on road work sites and witnessed the risk that reckless driving poses to those who work on them," Miller said in a statement. “By increasing enforcement measures for drivers who choose to drive at excessive speeds through a work zone, this legislation will better protect the men and women who do the vital jobs of building and maintaining the roads we rely on every day."
In March 2023, six highway workers were killed when Lisa Adrienne Lea, 54, of Randallstown, lost control of the car on the inner loop of Interstate 695 near I-70 before crashing into a work zone, police said.
Police said Lea was driving on the Beltway when she attempted to change lanes. As she did, police said her vehicle hit the front corner panel of a Volkswagen driven by Melachi Brown of Baltimore. The impact caused Lea to lose control of her car and enter the work zone, striking miscellaneous construction materials and workers, police said.
Emergency personnel pronounced six workers dead on the scene, police said.
Prosecutors said Lea had marijuana and five prescription medications in her system at the time of the crash, and was traveling at 121 mph and weaving in and out of traffic shortly before the collision. Brown reportedly was driving more than 120 mph before the crash, according to reports.
A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board said speed likely contributed to the crash. The posted speed limit in the work area was 55 mph.
Both drivers were indicted on multiple charges. Brown pleaded guilty to multiple counts of negligent vehicular manslaughter earlier this month.
According to figures provided by Miller's office, Maryland drivers crashed into more than 1,200 work zones in 2023, averaging more than three crashes per day.
The legislation would also remove outdated restrictions that limit enforcement in work zones to allow more flexibility in installing cameras. It would also allow drivers to immediately be cited for violations within a work zone, eliminating a requirement prohibiting the issuance of citations during a 30-day warning period following the deployment of a work zone camera.
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