Indiana road work zones might include speed enforcement cameras   

A group that represents highway workers supports a plan that would permit cameras to record speed violations in highway work zones. (Photo: WTHR)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - You don't have to drive far in central Indiana to run into a road construction work zone. Slowing down to the reduced posted speed limit is a hassle but might save your life or someone working along the road.

To reduce distracted and dangerous driving in work zones, Indiana lawmakers are considering legislation allowing automated speed enforcement cameras.

Heading east on Interstate 70 just east of Greenfield, traffic backed up Wednesday afternoon. The left lane was closed as workers put the finishing touches on a large cement patch area. The posted work zone speed limit is 55 miles an hour, but the traffic most certainly would have moved faster than that if not for the merger jam.

"We have seen in the last five years a precipitous increase in the number of collisions, injuries and deaths in work zones,” said Indiana Constructors President Richard Hedgecock, in an interview outside at the Indiana Statehouse.

Indiana Constructors represents the companies that do the highway work throughout the state. The Indiana Department of Transportation reported 14 people killed in 3,122 Indiana work zone crashes in 2018. 14 people have been killed so far this year in 2,691 hundred work zone crashes.

Hedgecock blames distracted drivers using cell phones.

"Technology has put us here in this situation and we need to use technology to help us get out of this situation,” said Hedgecock.

Indiana Constructors supports legislation for automated traffic enforcement devices, work zone cameras photographing license plates of speeding vehicles. If a vehicle reaches a certain threshold above the posted speed limit, the radar would trigger a camera to take a snapshot of the vehicle’s license plate. The penalty would be up to lawmakers and could vary from a warning to first time offenders to a hefty fine for repeat offenses.

Wednesday afternoon, Eyewitness News found drivers slowing way down in the I-70 work zone when the camera was rolling with a reporter pointing at radar gun at their vehicles.

"The right to safety, for both the motorist and the worker, is more important than the right to not have your license plate photographed while you're breaking the law,” said Hedgecock.

Work zones can be difficult and dangerous for police to patrol, making enforcement of reduced speed limits also difficult. If you get caught speeding in a work zone in Indiana, you can face a fine of up to $5,000. If a driver hits a worker, the penalty can be up to six years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Five states have passed automated work zone speed enforcement camera laws. They all require a police officer to review the photograph before a citation is given. A legislative study committee will decide later this month whether to recommend a law for Indiana when the Indiana General Assembly convenes in January.

Legislation introduced in previous sessions has failed to advance.

Hedgecock senses momentum building at the Statehouse for automated speed enforcement cameras. He welcomes a pilot program for Indiana.

INDOT says it is “not endorsing specific proposals at this stage, but the agency supports all efforts to make work zones safer for motorists and workers.”

Smile and slow down, or your vehicle may be on work zone candid camera.

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