Cameras put up along a stretch of Interstate 95 in Delaware have already captured nearly 20,000 drivers speeding past a work zone in just a few months. And, soon it is going to start costing speeders.
The Delaware Department of Transportation told NBC10 that as of Thursday, April 7, 2022, Delaware State Police had issued 19,862 warnings for drivers who sped at least 13 mph over the 45 mph speed limit along the ongoing work zone in Wilmington. The speed cams only went live on Jan. 17, 2022.
The cameras are part of Delaware's pilot Electronic Speed Safety Program. The plan is to keep camera-monitored systems in effect through the end of the construction project, which is set to end in the fall of 2023.
"The goal of the pilot program is to reduce work zone speeds and crashes, change driver behavior, and improve work zone safety for workers and motorists," DelDOT said in a news release when the program began.
Drivers going too fast through the construction zone will eventually get a ticket mailed to them.
Originally, the grace period before a warning would go out was set to be 30 days. Almost 90 days later, there is still no defined date for implementation of fines. DelDOT spokesman C.R. McLeod said that they believe state police will begin to issue fines before the end of April.
The program got off to a rocky start as the cams were vandalized back in January before the devices were even turned on. Since then, however, the goal of slowing drivers down in the work zone has shown progress.
"Early indications are we're having a significant reduction in crashes along 95 as a result of these speed cameras," Mark Buckalew, Chief of Construction and Materials for DelDOT, told WDEL.com.
"Buckalew said they continue to pull data from the speed cameras, but so far speeds are down an average of 8-percent on the northbound side and 11-percent on the southbound side of I-95 since the cameras went live.," WDEL.com reported.
Here are answers to some questions you may have about the speed cam program.
When Will Fines Begin to Be Issued?
There was originally a 30-day grace period for speed violators. After that, speeders were set to get a warning mailed to them for the first violation. Each speeding violation from then on would result in a fine sent through the mail.
How Do the Speed Cams Work?
The cameras read the license plate on the front and back of a vehicle and record the time and speed of the driver. The registered owner of speeding cars can then get tickets in the mail within 30 days.
DelDOT said they would be around the speed cameras, so don't think you can always know where the cams are posted.
How Fast Do I Need to Be Going to Get a Ticket?
If you go a few mph over the posted speed limit, you won't get a ticket. You have to be going 13 mph or more over the posted speed limit to get ticketed. Officials said that threshold falls in line with other states' automated speed cam policies.
What Is the Minimum Fine for Speeding?
The base violation is $20, but with other fees (going toward the Transportation Trust Fund Surcharge, Fund to Combat Violent Crimes and Volunteer Ambulance Company Fund) and a $1-per-mph-in-excess rate (more about that below), the minimum ticket is $74.50, according to DelDOT.
So Fines Go Up for Each MPH Over the Speed Limit?
Yes, this is how DelDOT describes the escalating fine:
"For example, if the captured violation occurs at a speed of 58 mph, the speed violation is $20.00 plus an additional $13.00 which accounts for $1.00 for each mile per hour over the 45-mph posted work zone speed limit, and the assessment of other fees as set forth in Delaware Code for a total of $74.50."
Will There Be Any Points Added to License?
No. These are civil penalties only. Insurance companies won't be made aware of the speeding violation, DelDOT said.
What If No Construction Is Taking Place at the Time I Drive by?
If you speed, you are subject to a fine 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Why Is There a Need for the Speed Cams?
"We continue to see motorists traveling at speeds well above the posted speed limit and too many crashes are occurring in the construction zone," Delaware Secretary of Transportation Nicole Majeski said back in January. "We need to utilize all the tools available to reduce crashes, and this program is about protecting everyone's safety."
Officials have seen an increase in crashes long the I-95 construction zone. There were 423 crashes in the I-95 work zone in Delaware in 2021, a 49% increase from 2019, DelDOT said.
"The sharp increase in collisions within the construction zone has been concerning and has put the motoring public and individuals in the work zone at risk," Delaware State Police Col. Melissa Zebley said. "Recognizing that construction zones are problematic areas to conduct traditional speed enforcement, we believe this program will encourage motorists to slow down for the sake of the highway workers and their fellow motorists alike."
McLeod summed it up like this:
"For the most part, people have really just ignored the posted 45 mph speed limit and not just by a little," McLeod said. "Traffic exceeded 70 mph or higher."
Who Operates the Speed Camera Program?
"Conduent, Inc. is DelDOT’s 'turnkey' vendor, who owns, operates, and maintains the ESSP camera equipment and citation/violation collection system," according to the Restore the Corridor website. "DelDOT’s Office of the Secretary and Traffic Engineering Section are responsible for all engineering, safety, and policy decisions--not Conduent. Delaware State Police is responsible for reviewing and validating all citations."
You can find answers to even more questions by clicking on this Q&A.