Working to cut traffic fatalities
According to statistics released Tuesday by the Maryland Department of Transportation, traffic-related crashes killed 520 people in the state last year. That is 77 more people than in 2014, MDOT officials said.
The state showed additional increases, as well. According to the release, 2015 saw a 35 percent increase in commercial vehicle-related fatalities and a 26 percent increase in young driver-involved fatalities. Bicycle fatalities doubled from five in 2014 to 10 in 2015, the release states.
“This tragic increase in people killed on our roadways is unacceptable,” said Deputy Transportation Secretary Jim Ports in a statement. “For all of us dedicating our lives to highway safety, this increase in fatalities is a call to action to strengthen and expand our efforts to save lives on our roads.”
At an April 26 news conference announcing the traffic safety statistics, state officials gave the five leading causes of deaths on Maryland’s roads: impaired driving, speeding, distracted driving, failure to wear seat belts and not using crosswalks.
“We lose 100 people every day on our nation’s roadways, and every single one of these deaths is preventable,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, in a statement. “This uptick in crashes is serving notice: We need to prioritize our safety. Driving defensively and staying alert can help us reverse this trend in 2016.”
According to the state’s “Toward Zero Deaths” campaign website, more than 28,000 people in Maryland are injured each year in distracted driver-related crashes, impaired drivers killed 856 people in the last five years, 80 people are injured each week because they were not wearing seat belts and 100 pedestrians are killed each year in accidents.
We join MDOT, the state police and others in urging everyone to follow traffic safety laws and to take additional precautions to turn the tide of rising fatalities.
Do not drink and drive. Have a plan before going out. Line up a designated driver or a cab. Car services like Uber are growing more popular and proving to be more accessible than ever, making any excuse inexcusable.
Leave your phone alone. Stay off your phone while driving. No texting, no checking email and no surfing the web. It can all wait until you safely park your car.
Put your seat belt on. According to state statistics, more than 200 people are killed in crashes each year because they did not buckle up.
Drive carefully. That means watch your speed, look twice for motorcyclists, pay extra attention when traveling in a work zone and move over for emergency vehicles.
“Police officers in Maryland recognize the important mission we have in reducing traffic crashes,” Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. William Pallozzi said in a statement. “Our strict enforcement of traffic laws is a daily reminder to drivers that our laws are in place for their safety and violation of those laws impacts the safety of everyone on our roads. Our goal continues to be changing driver behavior by enforcement that is focused on those areas and driving behaviors where the need is greatest.”
Gov. Larry Hogan issued a statement April 26 about his administration’s efforts to improve highway safety. He spoke about stricter interlock ignition laws for drunk drivers and increased funding for the state police. He said his administration has earmarked $1.97 billion in road and bridge projects throughout the state.
“Ultimately, every citizen of this state has a shared responsibility. We all need to slow down; always drive sober; pay attention at all times; keep an eye out for workers in construction zones; look out for motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians; use crosswalks; and make sure every person is wearing a seat belt or properly fastened in a child safety seat. If we all commit to safety on our roads, together we can make a difference and save lives,” Hogan said.
We urge everyone — motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians — to be safe. So many tragedies can be avoided by taking the proper precautions.
Learn more at towardzerodeathsmd.com.