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Date: Jul 24, 2013


July 24, 2013

Contact: Cheryl M. Sparks, 410-537-1017


Statement from Maryland Transportation Authority on National Transportation Safety Boards Decision to Conduct Investigation into July 19 Bay Bridge Accident

Transportation Authority Welcomes Independent Review to Ensure Safety of Motoring Public


Baltimore, MD - The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) was notified today by the National Transportation Safety Boards Office of Highway Safety on their decision to launch an investigation in response to the July 19, 2013, accident on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  In response, Acting MDTA Executive Secretary Bruce Gartner issued the following statement:

"We welcome the NTSBs involvement in our ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of motorists crossing the Bay Bridge.  We are constantly looking for ways to make crossing the span as safe as possible.  From major physical upgrades to public information efforts designed to target distracted driving and speeding, our customers should know that we are committed to their safety and that we will work closely with NTSB staff during their investigation.  We appreciate Senator Barbara Mikulskis advocacy on this issue, including her call for NTSB to look into this accident."

The average number of crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) is significantly lower on the Bay Bridge than it is on statewide roads.  From 2008 to 2011, the bridge averaged 43 crashes per 100 million VMT compared to the statewide average of 166 crashes per 100 million VMT.  The bridge carried approximately 28 million vehicles last year.

The NTSBs involvement follows last Fridays accident in which a car traveling on the eastbound span was pushed over the jersey barrier by a tractor trailer.  The MDTA Polices Crash Reconstruction Unit is working closely with the Maryland State Police to determine the exact cause of the accident.

The Bay Bridge crosses the Chesapeake Bay along US 50/301. Its dual spans provide a direct connection between recreational and ocean regions on Marylands Eastern Shore and the metropolitan areas of Baltimore, Annapolis and Washington, D.C. At 4.3 miles, the spans are among the worlds longest over-water structures. The original span opened in July 1952 and provides a two-lane roadway for eastbound traffic. The parallel structure opened in June 1973 and has three lanes for westbound travelers.






Valerie Burnette Edgar (SHA), 410-545-0303

Kelly Melhem (MDTA), 410-537-1017

Buel Young (MVA), 410-762-5188

Gregory M. Shipley (Maryland State Police) 410-653-4236 or 4200



August Traditionally Most Traveled and Deadliest of Summer Months

(July 23, 2013) – With most Marylanders and visitors in summer mode, it is a good time to remind drivers that there is no vacation from the basic rules of the road.  Whether making the annual pilgrimage to the beach and mountains or daily treks to summer camp and work, the Maryland Department of Transportation, Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) and Maryland State Police are urging travelers to stay on guard in the driver’s seat, and make solid, safe choices when traveling roadways this summer.

“Our mission at the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) is to keep travelers on the go and get them to their destinations and back home safely,” said State Highway Administrator Melinda B. Peters. “We’re asking for drivers to keep the summer safe by driving attentively and sober.”

According to the Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office, traffic crashes kill more people in August than in any other month.  In August 2012, 50 people were killed in Maryland vehicle crashes.  More than 90 percent of all fatal traffic crashes are preventable because they are caused by driver error.

"I want to stress to every driver in Maryland that distracted driving and aggressive driving increase a driver’s chance of being involved in a motor vehicle crash,” said John Kuo, Maryland's Highway Safety Representative and the Administrator of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. “Everyone who operates a vehicle on our roadways has a responsibility to drive safely, to devote their full attention to the task of driving and to avoid engaging in risky driving behaviors that jeopardize the safety of everyone.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 660,000 drivers, at any given moment during the day, use a hand-held cell phone while operating their vehicle.  In 2011, nearly 53,000 people in Maryland were involved in crashes as a result of distracted driving.

 “Although the accident rate on the Bay Bridge is far lower than the statewide rate, drivers crossing the span need to slow down and focus on the road,” said Acting MDTA Executive Secretary Bruce Gartner.  “When you’re crossing the Bay Bridge, it’s not the time to take photos, ‘check in’ on social media, talk on the phone or text.  Always stay alert and keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead.”

The average number of crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) is significantly lower on the Bay Bridge than it is on statewide roads (MDTA, SHA and local).  From 2008 to 2011, the overall crash rate on statewide roads 166 crashes per 100 million VMT compared to 43 crashes per 100 million VMT on the Bay Bridge.

In partnership with Toward Zero Deaths, the blueprint to end roadway fatalities, Maryland law enforcement are patrolling Maryland roadways and stopping and removing unsafe drivers.

 "Traffic crashes happen in an instant and are most often caused by a driver whose inattention or failure to obey the basic rules of the road jeopardizes the safety of the other motorists in the area," Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel Marcus L. Brown said.  "State Police summer safety enforcement efforts are underway in every region of the state, especially where data indicate crashes occur most often. Through strict enforcement initiatives on both east and westbound Rt. 50, Maryland state troopers are working to ensure drivers are operating safely before they reach the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  Every driver's full time and attention should be given to driving whenever they are behind the wheel, but especially when crossing the Bay Bridge."

Reminders for the Road:

•          Drive focused – Maryland law prohibits hand-held cell phone use and texting while driving.

•          Buckle up!  It’s the law in Maryland and your number one defense in a crash.

•          Place children in the proper child safety seat.

•          Move over to an adjacent travel lane away from emergency personnel  - Maryland law requires it.

•          At the Bay Bridge, obey overhead lane signals and use your headlights in two-way traffic.

•          Travel during off peak hours and allow extra time for unexpected delays.

•          Check your vehicle’s lights, tires, battery and windshield wipers for proper operation.

•          Slow down and pay attention, avoiding distractions such as cell-phone use, changing CDs, sightseeing and eating.  Observe all posted speed limits.

•          Never drink and drive!  Designate a sober driver. 

•          Drivers with cellular phones can dial #77 or 911 to report suspected aggressive or drunk drivers and disabled vehicles.

•          In the unfortunate case you are involved in a minor crash, please safely move your vehicle from the travel lanes – it’s Maryland’s law.

•          Watch for pedestrians and cyclists.  Give at least three feet of space when passing bicyclists and stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.

•          When walking and cycling, use crosswalks.  See and be seen!

In inclement weather:

•          See and be seen.  Maryland State law requires the use of headlights while windshield wipers are in use.

•          Wet road surfaces are not ideal and require particularly attentive driving.

•          Slow down, increase your distance between the vehicle in front of you, avoid distractions and drive defensively.

•          Be aware of wind warnings and restrictions that may be in effect at Maryland bridges. 

Know before you go, and use 511! The 511 travel advisory system provides road conditions and travel times for interstates and major highways throughout the State. Call 511 or visit  As a special feature, callers can short cut the menu options for shore routes by stating “Reach the Beach.”

For Bay Bridge updates, log onto or call toll-free 1-877-BAYSPAN (229-7726).