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New legislation would allow automated speed enforcement systems in work zones

Photo by Mark Konig on Unsplash

Motorists driving in work zones on highways and roads that are under the jurisdiction of the Michigan Department of Transportation could be facing automated speed enforcement systems under two bills (HB 4132 and HB 4133).

MDOT's jurisdiction covers M-, I-, and U.S. routes.

Both bills were unanimously reported out Tuesday by the House Regulatory Reform Committee.

Representative Will Snyder (D-Muskegon), a sponsor of the legislation along with Rep. Mike Mueller (R-Linden), said the goal is to try to slow down traffic in work zones on state roads.

"This to me is really only about worker safety," said Snyder. " Over the last ten years, there's been an average of approximately 14 worker fatalities in Michigan work zones per year."

According to the Office of Highway Safety in the Michigan State Police, in 2021 there were 5,814 work zone crashes in Michigan, of which 20 resulted in death and 1,451 in injuries.

Currently, Michigan law generally requires a law enforcement officer to witness a traffic violation before being allowed to issue a citation for a civil infraction like speeding.

Under the legislation, a citation would be issued if an electronic traffic sensor detected a vehicle going more than ten miles per hour over the work zone speed limit. The owner of the vehicle could then rebut the presumption that they were driving by submitting an affidavit that they were not the driver of the vehicle at the time of the alleged violation.

The penalty for a first violation, or a subsequent violation more than three years later, would be a written warning. For a second violation within three years of the most recent violation, the fine would be up to $150. For a third or subsequent violation within three years of the most recent violation, the fine would be up to $300.

“We support this commonsense bipartisan legislation that would keep our construction workers safe while they’re hard at work fixing Michigan’s roads." said Rob Coppersmith, executive vice president of the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association. "Construction sites are dangerous places, and when you mix that with distracted driving and high speeds, you’re left with families who lose their loved ones far too soon. This legislation would protect people on both sides of the orange barrel by placing speed cameras in work zones to better enforce speed limits.”

The ACLU of Michigan submitted a statement in opposition to HB 4132, raising concerns about privacy and due process.