Connecticut work area cameras seem necessary but draw criticism
(TNS) – Elias Khoury has worked for the state’s Department of Transportation for nearly a decade and the road maintainer says high-speed motorists have made his job less safe over the years.
“The drivers are going faster and faster,” said Khoury, a union worker who pointed out that many DOT workers have suffered “close calls” while performing road maintenance, clearing debris and repairing guardrails, among other tasks.
“They’re knocking over cones, that’s how close they are to us,” he said.
With distracted driving and speeding being common on Connecticut’s roads, the state will install specialized cameras in work areas next year in an attempt to slow drivers down.
The pilot program, which is set to start next summer, has also met with opposition, with some saying it raises privacy concerns and is designed as a revenue generator rather than an effort to increase road safety. .
The program will consist of placing three mobile speed detectors in work zones in different regions of the state. The cameras will be used to capture the license plate number of any vehicle traveling 15 mph or more over the speed limit in a work area.
A driver will receive a warning for a first offense. A second violation will result in a fine of $ 75 and a third violation will result in a fine of $ 150. Tickets will be mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. The offenses would not violate a driver’s insurance, state officials said.
All fines collected will go to the Special Transport Fund, which finances the state transport system, including the running costs of the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Motor Vehicles.
From Jan. 1 to Sept. 11, there were 576 accidents in work areas, leaving three dead and four seriously injured, according to preliminary DOT data. Data does not include statistics from the Hartford and New Haven Police Departments due to issues reporting information to the DOT.
Several states, including Pennsylvania, Washington, Illinois, and Maryland, have launched similar programs. Connecticut’s proposal was introduced in the 2021 General Assembly legislative session, but did not pass a stand-alone bill. Instead, it was included in the so-called budget implementation bill, a massive document that does not receive the same level of oversight as individual laws.
In testimony on the bill earlier this year, the Connecticut State Police Union, which opposed the plan, called the speed control radars “unreliable” and said soldiers from the State should be used to protect motorists and road workers.
“When a motorist is driving through a speeding construction zone, a speed camera cannot trigger a motor vehicle stop to remove a dangerous and reckless driver from our roads,” said General Manager Andrew Matthews.
Citing another concern, Matthews said the driver of the vehicle may differ from the registered owner of the vehicle – a potential deviation that cameras could not detect.
“If the radar only captures an image of the vehicle’s license plate, how would the identity of the operator be verified? ” He asked.
Carl Chisem, president of the Connecticut Employees Union Independent, SEIU Local 511, rebuffed claims that the program is a seizure of money and has refuted accusations that it is intended to replace state soldiers.
The union represents more than 3,600 state employees, including approximately 1,500 transport maintenance workers employed by the DOT.
“For me, if that doesn’t generate any dollars, it means the program is doing its job because all we want is awareness,” Chisem said. “It’s not a gotcha-type program to me.”
“If they want to send soldiers to the areas, that’s fine with me,” Chisem added.
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