Following months of meetings, Gov. Wes Moore announced Friday afternoon that the state would immediately implement several punitive and safety recommendations given by the Governor’s Work Zone Safety Work Group.
“Now’s the time that we’re going to work together to make sure our roads are safe for everyone in the state, including and particularly the people whose job it is to make sure those roads are easier to navigate for every single Marylander,” Moore, a Democrat, said.
Chaired by Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller, the Governor’s Work Zone Safety Work Group began meeting in May following the March crash at a Baltimore Beltway construction site that killed six workers.
The workgroup’s final meeting was Friday, when members voted unanimously to pass the recommendations on to the governor.
According to a document with the finalized list of recommendations provided by Miller’s office, there have been 1,105 work zone crashes in 2023, averaging approximately 3.5 crashes each day.
“By and large, we know the majority of Marylanders practice safe driving habits, but for those who are driving too fast, driving distracted, driving impaired and driving aggressively, they put other people’s lives in harm’s way,” she said.
The recommendations passed by the workgroup Friday include plans to modify existing state law to authorize the use of unmanned cameras at work zones and increasing penalties for speeding in work zones.
According to Miller, the fine for speeding in work zones is $40 — “the lowest in the nation,” she said.
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Certain recommendations, including penalty increases, will have to be implemented legislatively. Moore said that his administration plans to introduce those bills in a package during the 2024 legislative session that begins in January.
Others will be put in place now.
According to Moore, drivers on Maryland roadways can expect to see an increased presence of Maryland state troopers at work zones. The governor is also directing the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office to provide $500,000 for work zone safety education and awareness projects.
“Everything I just mentioned is just a down payment,” he said. “Changing culture doesn’t happen overnight, and I also know this: Changing culture is also going to have to require changes of Maryland drivers.”
The wife and daughter of construction worker Mahlon Simmons II, 52, and Mahlon Simmons II’s mother and sister were present at Friday’s meeting. Simmons II and his son, Mahlon Simmons III, were among the six construction workers killed in an accident on Interstate 695 in March.
Their family members stood tearfully as Moore and Miller assured them that the recommendations were made in an effort to protect the lives of other construction workers and prevent other families from enduring a similar pain.
“On behalf of the state of Maryland, your loss is our loss,” Miller said. “Life loss on our roadways — just one life lost, is one too many.