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Improving safety with work zone photo radar
ODOT and our partners in the highway construction industry operate over 100 work zones every year across the state.  The danger posed by vehicles speeding in a work zone is not primarily to the workers, but to the motorists and their passengers who must navigate narrowed lanes, shifting alignments, unusual pavement drop-offs, and other hazards.  In 2011, vehicles crashed 528 times in state and local work zones, resulting in 11 deaths and 280 injuries.

 
In 2007 the legislature allowed ODOT to pilot the use of photo radar in highway work zones. ODOT has found that photo radar is effective in reducing traffic speed: a 2009 test of the system in Portland found a 23 percent decrease in speeding vehicles.
 
However, the legislature placed many restrictions on ODOT’s use of work zone photo radar that have made it difficult to identify viable pilot sites. The department may only use the technology within one of the cities authorized by law (Albany, Beaverton, Bend, Eugene, Gladstone, Medford, Milwaukie, Oregon City, Portland, and Tigard).  ODOT cannot operate it on an interstate, and workers must be present in the zone when photo radar is used. Authority for the pilot program sunsets in 2014.
 
To further improve work zone safety, ODOT is proposing a bill in the 2013 Legislature that will make ODOT’s work zone photo radar authority permanent. The bill will also allow ODOT to use this safety tool on interstates and when workers are not on site.
 
With the inherent risk in a work zone and a broadly recognized correlation between speeding and reduced safety, ODOT expects the increased use of this tool to reduce crashes and save lives.