Washington Deploys Work Zone Cams Despite No Worker Fatalities
Washington State Department of Transportation uses highway worker deaths as excuse to deploy freeway speed cameras despite lack of worker deaths.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) dedicated last week to "Work Zone Safety Awareness" so that it could begin redeploying speed cameras on freeways. Bright orange publicity signs told motorists to "Give 'em a Brake" while fifty-six bright orange highway worker jackets hung from WSDOT offices as a reminder of the number of highway workers who have died since 1950.

"The men and women who work on our state and local highways are often working in and near traffic, and we want everyone to go home to their loved ones at the end of their work day," WSDOT Secretary Paula Hammond said in a statement.

According to WSDOT's own statistics, however, they do go home safely each night. Ninety-nine percent of "work zone" accidents in the state only affect drivers and their passengers, not workers. Washington's findings mirror those of national statistics that show automobiles pose far less of a danger to highway workers and that the latter are most frequently killed while operating their own equipment. Even so, no highway worker has died on the job in Washington in the past seven years.

"Pedestrians, flaggers and roadway workers account for only one percent of these injuries or fatalities," the WSDOT website admits. "Most deaths and injuries in work zones are caused by rear-end collisions."

When promoting red light cameras, however, Washington state officials downplay the relevance and severity of rear end collisions.

Still, in the name of protecting these workers, the Washington State Patrol will dish out doubled fines for speeding in work zones. The private contractor American Traffic Solutions will also be in the same areas mailing out an even greater number of speeding citations, worth $137 each, from photo radar vans. These ticketing vans were first deployed between September and October last year. This time, ticketing will continue for seven months through October. At the rate tickets were issued in 2008, the vans should issue nearly $1 million worth of citations by year's end.

WSDOT will deploy the cameras on Interstate Five in Lewis County and will move them south of Olympia to Grand Mound on May 4.