Maryland Implementing Measures to Prevent Work Zone Accidents and Protect Highway Construction Workers

As part of an effort to keep roadside construction workers safe and reduce the risk of accidents, Maryland motorists will see increased law enforcement and higher speeding fines in work zones, which may provide guidance for other states considering similar measures.

Amid rising concerns about construction worker safety along roadways, Maryland state officials have implemented a series of new safety measures that will help reduce the risk of work zone accidents and serious injuries for highway workers.

In a press release issued last month, Maryland Governor Wes Moore and Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller announced that the State of Maryland has taken action to enhance highway construction worker safety and prevent roadside work zone fatalities.

Officials indicate there have been 1,105 work zone crashes in Maryland this year, which averages to about 3.5 crashes every day. This included a tragic accident earlier this year that killed six highway workers, after a speeding vehicle overturned and landed in the construction site.

A recent survey among Maryland roadside workers revealed that nearly half have experienced a work zone car accident, and 42% indicated that their work zones were struck by a vehicle five or more times.

In response to a five-year spike in roadway fatalities, including work zone fatalities and the fatal highway construction site crash in March, the Maryland Work Zone Safety Recommendations were released and went into effect on November 17.

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Maryland Work Zone Safety Recommendations

The new safety recommendations were developed by the Governor’s Work Zone Safety Work Group (WZSWG), a committee of transportation safety, law enforcement, and construction industry experts established by Governor Moore in April.

The group was tasked with identifying driving behaviors that contribute to auto accidents in work zones and develop strategies that will help prevent accidents and reduce the damage they cause when they do happen.

Driver behavior accounted for the majority of all work zone crashes, which included excessive speeding, distracted driving, and aggressive driving. Other factors included changes in work zone speed limits that drivers failed to notice and expanded Maryland driving laws that some drivers may not be aware of.

To address these issues, the group recommended improving driver education to increase awareness of traffic and work zone laws, updating the Maryland driver manual, and making changes to the current driving education curriculum. Other recommendations included collaborating with other state agencies to improve roadwork alert systems and implement harsher penalties for work zone violations.

The State of Maryland will immediately increase the amount of Maryland state troopers and local police officers in work zones, and will work with the Maryland State Department of Education to develop new work zone safety campaigns.

Governor Moore also indicated that the state will allocate $500,000 to update the Maryland driver manual to include work zone guidance, fund educational campaigns, increase the number of speed cameras deployed in the state, and raise the work zone speeding citation amount from $40, which is the lowest violation amount in the nation.

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