Be safe. Maryland roadways saw 7% increase in deaths in 2017

| May 5, 2018
Rams Head

At the 2018 Maryland Highway Safety Summit, Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Secretary Pete K. Rahn was joined by law enforcement and health officials and other traffic safety advocates for an announcement and call-to-action to reduce the hundreds of fatalities that occur on State roads each year. Preliminary data collected by MDOT shows that in 2017, 557 people died in traffic crashes on roadways in the state – 35 more deaths than in 2016 – and vehicle miles traveled increased by two percent.

“MDOT remains deeply committed to zero deaths through stronger traffic laws, continued enforcement, roadway safety improvements, and education for all road users,” said MDOT Secretary Rahn.

Today’s announcement is part of a statewide Highway Safety Summit to highlight action steps and strategies in Maryland’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) to combat roadway fatalities and serious injuries. This five-year plan brings together federal, state, and local partners and stakeholders to help reduce these violent tragedies on our roadways by 50 percent by the year 2030.

“The force from a motor vehicle crash is capable of inflicting sudden, violent, and fatal trauma to the human body,” said Dr. David Fowler, Chief Medical Examiner for the state of Maryland. “Half of motor vehicle crash victims have a substance in their bloodstream – alcohol, illicit drugs, and/or prescription drugs that can impair a driver’s ability to control a vehicle.”

The SHSP addresses some of the riskiest driving behaviors –  including impaired, distracted, and aggressive driving and the failure to buckle up – as well as safety for pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists, and the engineering of safe roadways. While many issues are very complex, the summit highlighted some simple solutions to help build a traffic-safety culture in Maryland.

“If we had 100 percent seatbelt usage last year, 45 people would be alive and with their families today,” said MDOT Motor Vehicle Administrator and Governor Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative Christine Nizer.

“Every death on a Maryland road is preventable,” stated Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Police Chief Colonel Jerry Jones. “Law enforcement is out writing tickets to make sure everyone is driving sober, buckling up, slowing down, and getting home at the end of the day.”

MDOT and its partners remind drivers to “take a stand and make a plan” before any trip:

  • Have a safe and sober ride … a designated driver, cab, ride share, or public transportation.
  • Park the phone before you drive. Distractions lead to more than 28,000 injuries per year in Maryland.
  • Always buckle up! It’s the single most important way to save your life in a crash.
  • Adapt your driving. Leave a little early. You won’t feel the need to speed or drive aggressively.
  • Look twice for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists, especially when changing lanes or approaching an intersection.
  • Use crosswalks and bike lanes. Be visible on the road.
  • Move over when approaching an emergency vehicle or tow truck using visual signals. If you are unable to move over, slow down.
Severn Bank

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