Did you know that each day across the U.S., people drive drunk almost 300,000 times, but fewer than 4,000 are arrested? Distracted driving and drunk driving make up two of the top three common causes of car accidents, with speeding rounding out the trio. And in Maryland, it doesn’t seem as if motorists have been paying too much attention to their speedometers, particularly in work zones. They’re finally starting to slow down, but only after nearly $54 million in revenue have been earned by the state in the form of speeding fines.
Between 2013 and 2016, many drivers failed to slow down in work zones in Maryland. Even when they’re notified that they might be caught on camera, they’ve zoomed on by. That failure to heed speed-related warnings has resulted in the issuance of more than 1.3 million tickets and fees.
In just the past year, speed cameras in a particular work zone involving the Capital Beltway and Suitland Road have recorded nearly 125,000 motorists traveling at excessive speeds. The consequences of those speeds are steep; work zone speeding tickets may only cost $40 a person, but the state earned nearly $5 million thanks to all the drivers who were caught.
Although the construction industry eliminated more than 40% of its workforce between 2006 and 2011, this particular construction project is set to go on for another two years. In other words, speeding could prove rather lucrative for the state. There are 15 total active work zones on Maryland highways, and cameras that have been set up in those areas have raked in $19.9 in ticket revenue.
That said, the money being brought in by speeding motorists is actually less than it’s been in previous years. In general, the revenue from work zone speed cameras throughout the state dropped from a high of $16.4 million down to $9 million in 2016, and in some areas, nearly 50% fewer speeding tickets were issued.
The reason? Most people learn where the speed zones are located and won’t risk being issued another ticket. According to officials, only 40% of speeding motorists are repeat offenders. Simply put: Maryland motorists are finally starting to slow down.
While that may not be as fruitful, it’s still very good news for the state. Motorists are better able to negotiate through challenging work zones and construction workers are protected. Six people died in work zones during 2016 throughout Maryland, with dozens more being injured in crashes within these areas. According to the Maryland Department of Transportation, more than 700 individuals nationwide lose their lives every year in work zone crashes.
While the state may not be financially benefitting from fewer fines being issued, its residents certainly are. If you’ll be traveling through a work zone today, remember to step on the brakes and take your time. The premise of getting to work a little earlier is not worth a potential collision (or a nominal fee).