Quick Takes

Pilot program to add speed cameras to roadway work zones heads to Kentucky House

By: - January 30, 2024 7:30 pm

Rep. John Blanton, R-Salyersville, speaks before the House Transportation Committee. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Liam Niemeyer)

FRANKFORT — Adding speed cameras to highway construction zones received a House committee’s approval with bipartisan support Tuesday. 

Under House Bill 192, sponsored by Rep. John Blanton, R-Salyersville,  the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet would create a three-year pilot program starting in 2025 to add speed cameras to work zones in an effort to discourage speeding and prevent potentially deadly crashes. 

The cameras would operate only when construction workers are present. Signage would be installed in work zones notifying drivers of the speed cameras. The cameras would capture the license plates of vehicles speeding in excess of 10  miles an  hour through the zones; a “technician” would assess whether the images show a speeding violation in a work zone. 

In case of violations, the Transportation Cabinet within 14 days would mail a citation to the vehicle owner with the captured image. The first citation penalty would be $75, with subsequent fines in a three-year period $125 each. The penalties could be appealed.

Blanton, chair of the House Transportation Committee, said the citations would be considered “civil penalties” and not handled by local courts like regular traffic infractions, reducing the administrative costs of processing the fines. 

“Let me be very clear — I’m not interested in issuing citations. I’m interested in slowing people down in work zones to protect not just the workers, but quite frankly, to protect other people traveling through these work zones,” Blanton said. “We’ve all been through them. They get narrow. They switch lanes. There’s a reason we need to slow down.” 

Blanton alongside Transportation Cabinet officials pointed to how other states have used speed cameras in work zones, particularly in Pennsylvania.

Rep. Thomas Huff, R-Sheperdsville, one of two votes against the bill in the committee, said he was opposed because of the significant amount of “pushback” he received last year from constituents when a similar bill was being considered. That bill also passed the House Transportation Committee but failed to receive a full House vote. 

The legislation is named after Jared Helton, a contract worker for the Tennessee Department of Transportation from Salyersville who died from injuries in 2019 after a car crash in a work zone.

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Liam Niemeyer
Liam Niemeyer

Liam covers government and policy in Kentucky and its impacts throughout the Commonwealth for the Kentucky Lantern. He most recently spent four years reporting award-winning stories for WKMS Public Radio in Murray.