The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, January 22, 2020 1:00 am

Bill targets work zone speeders

Camera use unnerves some

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – An attempt to use cameras to catch speeders in construction zones met resistance in committee Tuesday, causing the bill to be held for a possible vote next week.

Sen. Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute, authored Senate Bill 268, which would authorize Indiana State Police to establish a speed camera pilot program to enforce highway work site speed limits. Only those going at least 11 mph above the work site speed limit would be cited.

Ford said five other states have similar programs in place with positive results. 

“The goal is to try to get the speed down the best we can in work zones,” he said, noting other states have seen a reduction in speeds between 8 and 12 mph.

He said it is a pilot program and initially would be deployed in only select areas to track the program.

Workers must be present in the zone and there must be signs posted warning of speed cameras before entering the work site.

A ticket would be sent to the owner of the vehicle – along with a picture of the car's license plate – similar to how tolls are processed on a southern Indiana bridge over the Ohio River.

But several Republicans on the Senate Veterans Affairs and Public Safety Committee expressed concern. Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, worried newspapers would run the names of the person ticketed based on who owns the vehicle. He said there is no way to know who was actually driving the car because the picture will not show it.

And Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville, said he was sent a ticket on a toll road and instead it was a semi with a similar license number.

“It's not a perfect system,” he said. “I have a problem with big daddy looking over my shoulder.”

But representatives from several unions and construction companies said this is the only alternative to truly affect safety in work zones.

Daniel Brown of highway construction company Phend & Brown said work zone injuries have grown from 443 in 2013 to 892 in 2018.

Fatalities have also risen – with 94 fatalities since 2014, Brown said. Of those 94, five were construction workers and the rest were drivers or others on the road.

Steve Key, lobbyist for the Hoosier State Press Association, also noted the bill specifically makes the photo of a car's license plate confidential but evidence in other criminal cases is public when it is in court records of a case.

The ticket would be an infraction only and would not count against a person's license. 

Key also said license plates are visible to the public and there is already a law prohibiting someone from getting information on a person from the plate number.

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