Pa. bill would allow speed cameras in highway work zones

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Legislation pending in the state Senate would allow cameras to photograph the license plates of drivers who speed through highway construction zones.

Senate Bill 840, sponsored by Sens. David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) and Judith L. Schwank (D-Berks) would establish a five-year pilot program for automated speed enforcement on interstates and the Turnpike.

The cameras automatically detect drivers traveling 10 miles over the speed limit and photograph their vehicles and license plates. The vehicle’s registered owner would then receive a ticket and a copy of the photograph in the mail within 30 days. Speeders would face a $100 fine.

At least two signs would have to be placed before an active work zone to warn drivers that an automated speed enforcement device is in use.

Schwank said in 2013, 16 people died in work zone crashes in Pennsylvania. Her proposal is similar to Maryland’s Safe Zones program which began in 2010. Since then, the state has seen an 85 percent reduction in work zone citations.

“It’s not meant to create a lot of revenue. It’s really meant to help promote safety,” she said.

Defense attorney Ed Spreha has concerns about the bill. He says it shifts the burden of proof from the commonwealth to the driver.

“If you’re the owner of the vehicle, you’re going to get a notice in the mail, and now you’re responsible for defending yourself when the vehicle may not have even been operated by you,” he said.

Legislation would be needed to make the program fully operational at the end of the five years.

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