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Date: Apr 2016

mdotMaryland Department of Transportation

 

                       Roadway Fatalities Increase in Maryland and Across Nation

Officials Unveil New Strategic Plan to Reduce Traffic Crashes and Fatalities
Maryland's Goal: Toward Zero Deaths


Linthicum Heights, MD (April 26, 2016) - With several hundred federal, state and local traffic safety experts meeting at the 2016 Strategic Highway Safety Plan Summit to develop solutions to save lives on Maryland roadways, officials from the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), Maryland State Police and National Safety Council today announced that in 2015, 520 people died in traffic-related crashes on Maryland's roadways. According to data collected by MDOT, the preliminary figure represents an increase from the previous year when 443 people were killed and follows a trend that has seen roadway deaths increase nationwide.

"This tragic increase in people killed on our roadways is unacceptable," said Deputy Transportation Secretary Jim Ports. "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."

Along with a rise in overall fatalities, Maryland experienced the following increases:

  • 35 percent increase in commercial vehicle-related fatalities;
  • 26 percent increase in young driver-involved fatalities; and
  • Double the number of bicycle fatalities from 5 in 2014 to 10 last year.

"Police officers in Maryland recognize the important mission we have in reducing traffic crashes," Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel William Pallozzi said. "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."

The data was announced at an event to formally kick off Maryland's implementation of a five-year plan to combat traffic crashes and the resulting serious injuries and fatalities. Known as the Maryland Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP), the effort brings together local, state, and federal partners and organizations such as the National Safety Council, AAA, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, AT&T, and numerous other corporate, non-profit, and public sector partners. The SHSP contains more than 30 separate strategies to reduce overall roadway fatalities by at least 50 percent in the next two decades. The Plan emphasizes solutions from the "Four Es" of highway safety - Engineering, Enforcement, Education, and Emergency Medical Services - and comprehensively addresses the troubling increase in roadway fatalities.

"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. "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."

To reduce congestion, enhance roadway safety and fix all structurally deficient state-owned bridges, Governor Larry Hogan allocated nearly $2 billion in highway funds targeted to long-awaited improvements throughout the state. These improvements, along with recently announced roadway investments, include:

  • $24 million to improve 11 Salisbury Bypass bridges;
  • $81 million to reconfigure the MD 175/MD 295 interchange;
  • $86 million to widen US 113;
  • $100 million to reduce traffic gridlock along I-270;
  • $120 million to widen MD 404 from US 50 to the Denton Bypass; and
  • $152 million to widen a nine-mile stretch of MD 32.

The Hogan administration also is investing millions in targeted law enforcement strategies aimed at catching and arresting drunk drivers and educational campaigns focused on impaired driving, pedestrian safety, seat belt use and distracted driving. MDOT recently expanded a statewide campaign to help fight driver distraction by installing 26 signs prior to
13 rest areas alerting motorists of Maryland's law that prohibits the use of handheld electronic devices while driving.

"It Can Wait!" is written in large letters on the signs to remind drivers that their call/text can wait until they reach the next rest area.

Officials at today's event highlighted areas that have historically been leading causes of deaths on Maryland's roads, including:

  • Impaired driving;
  • Speeding;
  • Distracted driving;
  • Not wearing seat belts; and
  • Not using crosswalks.

MDOT and its partners remind everyone of a few simple rules that will help save lives:

  • Always drive sober. Use a designated driver, call a cab or rideshare, or use public transportation but never drive if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Park the phone before you drive. Driver distraction contributes to nearly 30,000 injuries and more than 200 deaths per year in Maryland.
  • Always buckle up! It's the single most important way to save your life in a crash.
  • Slow down. Speeding will not get you where you want to go that much faster, but will contribute to a much greater likelihood of injury or death in a crash.
  • Use crosswalks and bike lanes. Being visible on the road is especially important for pedestrians and bicyclists. Wear bright clothing, obey the rules of the road while on a bicycle, and cross where drivers expect to see you. When driving, always look for pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Look twice for motorcyclists. Motorcycles are sometimes more difficult to see so please look twice for them when changing lanes or pulling into an intersection.
  • Respect Maryland's work zones. Speeding and distracted driving through work zones is dangerous to workers and to other motorists.
  • Move over. Drivers approaching from the rear of an emergency vehicle that is stopped on a highway must move over into the other lane, if possible, and slow down.

                                                                        # # #

Note: Maryland's Toward Zero Deaths campaign focuses on preventing impaired driving, aggressive driving and distracted driving and promotes seatbelt use. For more information on the Toward Zero Deaths campaign, please visit towardzerodeathsmd.com .

tzd

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 19, 2016

  

KEY BRIDGE SHORELINE CLEANUP AT

MDTA POLICE HEADQUARTERS THIS SATURDAY

Last Chance To Sign Up THURSDAY

BALTIMORE, MD – The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA), the agency that finances, owns, operates and maintains the state's eight toll facilities, will host an Earth Day “shoreline cleanup” this Saturday, April 23, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the MDTA Police Headquarters near the Francis Scott Key Bridge (I-695).

Come help your neighbors and local volunteers clear the shoreline of debris that has washed ashore and let’s do our part to help beautify the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  All volunteers must register by 11 p.m. on Thursday, April 21, using the following link: https://mdtashoreclean.eventbrite.com.

Shuttle service will begin at 8 a.m. at the Key Bridge parking lot at 305 Authority Drive, Baltimore, MD 21222.  The last shuttle to the shoreline will depart the Key Bridge parking lot at 8:30 a.m.  Volunteers will be brought back via shuttle to the Key Bridge at the end of the event.

  • Volunteers must be 13 years of age or older.  Individuals under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult: one adult for every four minor children.
  • Waivers must be signed and submitted at the time of registration on Saturday.  Waivers will be emailed to volunteers who have pre-registered and also will be available at the volunteer site.
  • Clothing should be comfortable.  Long pants and long-sleeved shirts are suggested.  Comfortable yet sturdy shoes with good ankle support and rubber soles should be worn.
  • Gloves, vests, collection equipment and drinking water will be provided.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2016

 

Distracted Driving Month Kicks Off With Coordinated Effort to Save Lives


Officials Launch Statewide Signage Campaign to Remind Motorists: It Can Wait!
Rest Areas Designated as Safe Zones for Texts and Calls

 

I-95 Maryland House Travel Plaza - April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and officials with the Maryland Department of Transportation today joined representatives from the Maryland State Police (MSP), Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Police, AAA and AT&T to launch a coordinated statewide effort to save lives by unveiling new highway signs designating rest areas as safe texting and calling zones. Handheld cell phones are the leading cause of distracted driving, which results in nearly 29,000 injuries and more than 230 deaths each year in Maryland. The state is in the process of installing 26 signs prior to
13 rest areas alerting motorists of Maryland's law that prohibits the use of handheld electronic devices while driving. It Can Wait! is written in large letters on the signs to remind drivers that their call/text can wait until they reach the next rest area.

"Handheld cell phones have proven to be lifesavers, but when it comes to driving, these devices can be deadly," said Motor Vehicle Administrator and Governor Hogan's Highway Safety Representative Christine Nizer. "These signs will serve as a visible reminder to motorists that their calls and texts can wait."

Driver distraction is involved in 58 percent of all crashes on Maryland roads and nearly half of all fatal crashes. Nationwide, eight people are killed and more than 1,100 injured EVERY DAY due to distracted driving.

"The MDTA is pleased to unveil this important campaign's first signs on I-95 at the Maryland and Chesapeake House travel plazas," said MDTA Executive Director Milt Chaffee. "The MDTA Police also are stepping up distracted-driving enforcement and education at Maryland's bridges, tunnels and toll roads this month."

"Citations for distracted driving can be as much as $160 and can also include points on a driver's license," stated Lt. Colonel Anthony Satchell of the Maryland State Police. "Drivers who cause crashes when they use a handheld cell phone are subject to penalties of up to one year in jail and a fine of $5,000."

"Encountering a distracted driver on the roadway is the biggest traffic safety concern facing Maryland motorists, even more so than drunk drivers, drugged drivers and aggressive drivers, according to a recent poll conducted by AAA," said Ragina C. Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs at AAA. "Forty-two percent of survey respondents indicated that distracted driving was their most important traffic safety concern in 2016."

"Since we launched the It Can Wait campaign, we've been working with organizations across the state to remind all drivers about the dangers of texting while driving," said AT&T Maryland President Denis Dunn. "We're excited to team up with the State of Maryland to help better spread the word to keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone because It Can Wait."

Today's launch included a driving simulator that illustrated the dangers of distracted driving to visitors at the Maryland House Travel Plaza. A statewide media campaign aimed specifically at preventing handheld cell phone use while driving also was unveiled at the event. Throughout April, radio spots, billboards and social media will highlight the life-threatening aspects of distracted driving.

Here's how to curb distracted driving:

  • Park the phone before you drive.
  • Make any calls or texts before you start driving or pull into a Maryland Rest Area or other safe place to make the call/text.
  • Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
  • Ride Responsibly. If you're a passenger, and your driver is texting or making calls, ask them to stop.
  • Drive Defensively. Just because you don't drive distracted doesn't mean that others won't.
  • Always buckle up! It's the single most important way to save your life in a crash.

                                                                               # # #

Note: Maryland's Toward Zero Deaths campaign focuses on preventing impaired driving, aggressive driving and distracted driving and promotes seatbelt use. For more information on the Toward Zero Deaths campaign, please visit towardzerodeathsmd.com .