Speed cameras may come to highway workzones in Indiana under proposed bills

Two Indiana lawmakers are pulling another punch by placing speed cameras in active highway work zones.

This week, both bills received successful votes in their first committee readings.

Senator Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute, and Representative Jim Pressel, R-Rolling Prairie, authored Senate Bill 179 and House Bill 1035, respectively, each of which seeks to establish a pilot program to test the automatic enforcement of speeding at these sites when workers are absent. The first puts the speeding threshold at 11 mph over the speed limit and funnels the proceeds into a fund for fallen state troopers; the second sets the threshold at 12 mph and earmarks the proceeds for various work zone safety measures.

It is the third time Pressel has attempted to rally support for such legislation; other lawmakers have also tried multiple times, he said. Last year, similar bills by him and Ford failed to advance.

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He attributes previous failures to resistance to greater use of technology in law enforcement, an argument that came up again during the House Highway and Transportation committee hearing on Jan. 19.

“Where does all this end? When do the cameras stop?” asked Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn. “When is the next time the government wants to police citizens and give them tickets? Is it jaywalking?”

In both bills, photos taken of license plates would not be used to prosecute any other crimes. The Senate bill, co-authored by Sen. David Niezgodski, a South Bend Democrat, says the photos must be destroyed after two years.

“These cameras should be aimed at keeping people safer,” said Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, who co-authored the Pressel bill that introduced similar legislation in the past. “If we can accept that the cameras in this building (the House of Representatives) are reasonable, then we should be able to accept that this is a reasonable bill for our roads in Indiana.”

In 2018, 14 people were killed and more than 650 were injured in Indiana work zones, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation.

What the bills would do

What the bills would do

Currently, getting caught speeding in an active highway work zone means a $300 fine the first time, then $500 and $1,000 for the second and third offenses, plus points on your driver’s license. This may interest you : What is a teacher’s salary in Indiana?.

The proposed pilot programs would use cameras instead of humans to catch violators and mail tickets to the address associated with their license plate. The first offense in this program is a warning, and the second and third offenses range from $75 to $150 on the two bills.

Sen. Bob Morris, R-Fort Wayne, questioned the value of lowering penalties for speeding in a work zone. Pressel said the goal is education: to get Indiana people used to technology. The bills would require both an education campaign before the pilot and signs before the work zone.

Both bills provide an appeal process if the owner of the vehicle was not the one driving.

Indiana lawmakers said money from their pilot program would not go into the state’s general fund, as money from speeding violations in work zones currently does, but to run the program itself. The additional funds would go toward a fallen state police fund, according to the Senate bill, or toward recruiting, training, increasing work zone patrols and hiring police speed camera operators. state, according to the House bill.

The House bill, also co-authored by Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, and Rep. Mike Karickhoff, R-Kokomo, limits the pilot program to four work zones statewide.

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The debate

The debate

With each passing year, more states have enacted such pilot programs, producing more data. See the article : 3 from Missouri die in crash on icy I-70 in western Indiana. Currently, 16 states have speed camera programs in school zones or highway work zones, or both, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In Maryland, the percentage of drivers speeding in work zones by more than 12 mph has decreased from 7% when its SafeZones program began in 2010 to 1% today. In Illinois, a study found that the percentage of drivers speeding in work zones dropped from around 40% to 8% near speed cameras.

In the first 18 months of the Pennsylvania program, which began in March 2020, cameras caught half a million violations and collected more than $5 million in fines.

Speed ​​contributes to about a third of car accidents nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“We’re never going to stop work zone accidents, but what we can do is slow people down and keep them from dying,” said Richard Hedgecock, president of Indiana Builders, Inc.

In addition to being a public safety issue (four out of five people killed in work zones are the traveling public), David Heyde, business development manager for E&B Paving, sees it as a workforce development issue. Unsafe working conditions are a deterrent to an already scarce workforce, he said.

“We have a strong program here to improve our infrastructure in Indiana, but we need to be able to maintain a workforce to be able to do that job,” he said.

It’s also safer for state police not to have to patrol these work zones, Pressel argued.

Opponents of the bill cited privacy concerns and potential complications for the application, should tickets get lost in the mail or forgotten by the wrong recipient.

Hedgecock, a supporter, has also tried to allay concerns that this is just a money grab.

“This is just a pilot program,” he said. “We owe it to them [the workers] to try.”

Contact IndyStar transportation reporter Kayla Dwyer at kdwyer@indystar.com or follow her on Twitter @kayla_dwyer17.

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