Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

A motorist traveling at 96 mph through an Interstate 95 construction zone near Norwalk in June became the first — and so far the only — driver to receive a citation under an ongoing pilot program testing automated traffic enforcement cameras, according to the Transportation Department. 

The limited pilot program was approved by the legislature in 2021 and implemented in April, when the DOT began utilizing SUVs equipped with cameras capable of photographing vehicles passing through certain highway work zones at more than 15 mph over the speed limit. 

Since then, a $75 citation has been issued to just one driver, who a DOT spokesperson declined to name this week, citing a provision of state law preventing the agency from disclosing personally identifiable information collected by the cameras. 

That’s not to say the program’s cameras had recorded only one person speeding through construction zones. 

As of last week, the agency had issued warnings to more than 9,000 drivers who were photographed while traveling more than 15 mph over the speed limit. Meanwhile, some 265,000 other drivers sped through the work zones traveling above the posted speed limit without meeting the threshold to receive a warning or citation. 

Kafi Rouse, the agency’s director of communications, said it was too soon to gauge the efficacy of the camera program, which is scheduled to run through the end of this year. 

“During the height of construction season, it is imperative for people to slow down as they approach work zones and be mindful that they may not see workers from their vehicles,” Rouse said in an email last week. “We need everyone, motorists and workers, to get home safely.”

The work zone pilot program represents Connecticut’s first foray into automated traffic enforcement, a concept the state had long resisted. It won’t be the last as the state legislature this year approved a bill containing an option for towns and cities to employ speed cameras and red light cameras to enforce local traffic ordinances.

The law’s passage followed the deadliest year on state roadways in decades. At least 380 people died on the state’s roadways last year, according to the Department of Transportation.

The new policy requires municipalities that choose to adopt traffic camera programs to hold public hearings and submit plans to the DOT demonstrating that the cameras would be installed in areas likely to improve traffic safety. Approved plans would be good for three years, after which towns would be required to seek state approval again. 

The Transportation Department intends to issue written guidance to towns by Jan. 1, which will detail the criteria the agency will use to evaluate local camera program plans. Municipalities will be free to submit plans to the agency following the release of those guidelines, a DOT spokesperson said.