Maybe somebody just hated the idea of a camera issuing speeding tickets.
Delaware started camera enforcement of the 45-mph work-zone speed limit on a stretch of I-95 through Wilmington on Tuesday — a day later than planned. On Monday, a technician discovered that over the weekend, vandals had damaged several speed cameras in both the northbound and southbound lanes, the state Transportation Department said.
The cameras were quickly fixed and now are operational, with what DelDOT spokesperson C.R. McLeod described as unspecified “additional security measures” to protect the cameras.
The Restore the Corridor project began last February, its objective to overhaul about five miles of I-95 from just north of Wilmington to just south of the city, fixing the roadway, ramps, and 19 bridges. Work is scheduled to be complete in fall 2023.
“We were consistently seeing speeds exceeding 70 mph in the work zone,” McLeod said. “The concerning part is that a lot of this route is through narrow cattle chutes with frequent lane changes and no shoulders.”
The work zone had 423 crashes last year, up 49% from the same area in 2019, the last pre-pandemic year with normal traffic volumes, according to the Transportation Department and Delaware State Police.
Seventy-four people sustained injuries requiring medical attention, and there was one fatality, McLeod said. An off-duty first responder was struck and killed when she stopped to help motorists who had collided, he said. No construction workers have been injured.
There were 51 injuries reported in crashes on the same stretch of I-95 in 2019.
Things you need to know about the Delaware speed cameras:
There’s a 30-day grace period, after which first-time violators will be mailed a warning. Second violations will bring fines.
The cameras clock speed and snap pictures of the vehicle’s license plate and driver. Citations are issued to the registered owner.
Under state law, a speeding ticket starts at a $20 fine, with $1 added for each mile over the posted speed limit, which is 45 mph in the work zone. With state fees for public safety programs added, the minimum ticket would be $74.50.
Violators in the work zone will not be cited unless they are driving 13 mph or more over the limit.
Tickets are civil violations, and no points are assessed against a driver’s license. Insurance companies will not be notified.
Automated speed enforcement cameras have been used on accident-prone Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia since July 2020. Preliminary figures found speeding violations decreased 93% in the program’s first nine months, according to the Philadelphia Parking Authority.
Pennsylvania has used construction-zone speed enforcement cameras on highways since 2020, and as of last Sept. 30, it had flagged more than 550,000 vehicles traveling at least 11 miles over the limit, according to PennDot.
The National Motorists Association, a drivers’ rights group, opposes automated speed enforcement, saying it’s a cash machine for the agencies who deploy cameras, doesn’t reduce speeds, and punishes people who weren’t driving.