Maryland’s Work Zone Safety Group has launched a search for ways to make highway construction areas safer for workers and motorists, and minimize the potential for incidents such as the March 22 crash on the I-695 Beltway in Baltimore that killed five employees of contractor Concrete General Inc. and one KCI employee working as a state inspector.

“Our highway construction workers need urgent solutions,” said Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller (D) at the June 1 opening meeting of the group, which she is chairing.

Two drivers involved in the crash were charged with multiple counts of manslaughter and reckless driving by the Baltimore County State Attorney’s Office, according to media reports

The crash remains under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

An additional 145 work zone crashes have occurred on Maryland highways since the March 22 Baltimore crash, said Miller, a former transportation engineer.

She added that nearly half of state highway workers surveyed in a recent study said vehicles had collided into their work sites at least three times. More than 40% said vehicles had collided five or more times.

As part of its initial meeting, the group received a tour of a functioning work zone set up at the Maryland State Highway Administration’s statewide operations center in Hanover.

The safety group, announced in April by Gov. Wes Moore (D), is composed of highway engineers, law enforcement officials, labor leaders and state highway workers. One subgroup will focus on roadway operations and work zone set-ups, while another will explore potential improvements in motorist education. Each subgroup will develop and submit a comprehensive set of recommendations for state consideration, including any needed legislative action. 

Ideas already suggested include enhanced training for construction workers, using local police to broaden work zone law enforcement resources and applying automated flagger devices, rumble strips and other technology to alert drivers. 

Increased fines for exceeding work zone speed limits and removing restrictions on placement of speed cameras will also be considered.