The International Association of Chiefs of Police, in cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Sheriff’s Association, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, recently presented the Maryland State Police with three top national awards in recognition for outstanding traffic safety efforts aimed at reducing crashes and injuries.
The Maryland State Police won first place in the 2015 National Law Enforcement Challenge for state police or highway patrol departments with between 500 and 1,500 sworn members. A Special Category Award was also presented to the Maryland State Police for commercial vehicle safety efforts by state police agencies. A third honor, the Clayton J. Hall Memorial Award, was received for submitting the most comprehensive traffic safety program out of more than 200 law enforcement agencies participating in the national competition.
“It was an honor to accept these awards on behalf of the dedicated troopers in the Field Operations Bureau,” Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel William Pallozzi said. “While receiving this recognition is appreciated, our commitment to traffic safety is not to earn awards, but because we know the harder we work, the more impact we can have on reducing crashes, saving lives, and making our highways safer.”
The National Law Enforcement Challenge focuses on the police department’s comprehensive strategies to address the traffic safety issues of impaired driving, occupant protection, and speed awareness. Agencies can select an additional traffic safety issue that has been identified as a problem in their state. Police departments are evaluated and judged on their approaches to traffic safety issues based on the factors of problem identification, policies, planning, training, public information and education, enforcement, and outcomes.
Impaired driving enforcement remains a priority for the Maryland State Police. The introduction of the State Police Impaired Driving Reduction Effort, or SPIDRE Team, has been a major advancement in this effort. This team of highly trained troopers works specific areas of the state that have a high number of impaired driving crashes.
Throughout the state, troopers use geographic information system mapping to determine where DUI enforcement is needed most in each county. Troopers at each barrack are responsible for conducting saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints in those targeted areas.
Additional training in impaired driving enforcement was provided to 746 troopers in 2014. That year, state troopers arrested 7,044 impaired drivers. So far this year, troopers have arrested more than 5,800 impaired drivers.
The Maryland State Police instituted the Reducing Crime and Crashes initiative, which requires each patrol trooper to spend a portion of their duty day focusing on enforcement in an identified ‘hot spot’ for crime or where traffic crashes are most prevalent in their area of responsibility. This program has been especially effective in efforts aimed at reducing speeding and aggressive driving. It also ensures troopers are working in the documented areas where enforcement is most needed and appropriate. In 2014, patrol troopers issued 117,931 citations for speeding and conducted more than 5,200 special speed enforcement details across the state.
Seat belt and child safety seat laws have helped Maryland reduce traffic fatalities to record lows. Both education about and enforcement of occupant protection laws are a focus of the Maryland State Police. Last year, State Police launched an effort to train more troopers as child safety seat technicians and increased opportunities around the state for parents to learn how to properly install a safety seat and buckle up their children. Troopers issued 19,268 seat belt citations in 2014 and conducted more than 500 occupant protection enforcement initiatives.
The Maryland State Police identified crashes involving heavy trucks and buses as a problem after 70 people died in 2012 in crashes involving those types of vehicles. The Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division launched a number of education and enforcement initiatives aimed at reducing those fatalities and increasing the awareness of both commercial and non-commercial drivers which are continuing. Especially being targeted are new drivers, who receive instruction from troopers about how to stay out of the ‘no-zone’ and drive safely around commercial vehicles. State Police conducted multiple commercial vehicle enforcement initiatives during 2014 and 2015 and have trained police in allied agencies who have similar enforcement teams. Fortunately, fatalities involving heavy trucks and buses showed a steep drop in Maryland, declining to 39 in 2014. Maryland has been recognized as having more commercial vehicle safety inspections per road mile than any state in the country.
The focus of Maryland State Police efforts was in coordination with and support of Maryland’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan. Many of the enforcement efforts the Maryland State Police was recognized for were funded by grants from the Maryland Highway Safety Office, the State Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Maryland State Police traffic safety efforts will continue, in cooperation with local, state and federal law enforcement and highway safety partners. Traffic safety is the responsibility of everyone who drives on Maryland roads. State Police ask drivers to ensure they are doing their part to comply with traffic laws and to keep Maryland roads safe.