JESSUP, MD - The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) joined law enforcement officials today at the Maryland State Police (MSP) Waterloo Barrack to warn motorists traveling during the Fourth of July week to “make a plan” for a safe and sober ride or face severe consequences.
“I have one simple message for those traveling on Maryland roadways during this upcoming holiday week: if you plan to drink, make sure you have a safe and sober way to get to your destination,” said Col. Jerry Jones, Maryland Transportation Authority Police Chief and Chairman of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee.
Between 2012 and 2016 in Maryland, 781 people were killed and nearly 17,500 were injured in a crash where drugs and/or alcohol were involved. Likewise, more than 57 percent of all impaired driving related crashes occur on a Friday, Saturday or early Sunday.
“One of the highest priorities for the Maryland State Police is to ensure the safety of all those traveling on Maryland roads and highways", said Lt. Colonel Frank Lioi, Chief of the Operations Bureau of the Maryland State Police. "The injuries and fatalities that occur as a result of someone’s poor decision to get behind the wheel while impaired, are preventable which is why we continue to stress the importance of sober driving.”
The team, known as the State Police Impaired DRiving Effort, or SPIDRE, has been responsible for more than 2,700 Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrests since its inception in 2013. Co-funded by MSP and MDOT to combat impaired driving, SPIDRE’s seven troopers work in areas where impaired driving is found to be a leading cause of death and injury. The team often partners with local police agencies to strengthen its efforts.
“We’re proud to partner with the SPIDRE team,” said Baltimore County Police Department Lt. Colonel Alexander Jones. “Our message is crystal clear: if you drive under the influence, you will be caught.”
Besides the risk of causing injury or death, driving under the influence may result in an arrest, which could lead to jail time, extensive legal costs and fines. In addition, as part of the 2016 implementation of Noah’s Law, drivers convicted of DUI are required to participate in Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program. An ignition interlock is a device that prevents a vehicle from starting when it detects alcohol on the driver’s breath and requires the driver to retest at random points while driving. Maryland has one of the most robust and successful interlock programs in the country.
“Enjoy your holiday weekend with friends and family, but please only drive if you are sober and make sure everyone buckles up, every seat, every time,” said Kelly Melhem, Deputy Chief, MDOT Highway Safety Office. “Seat belts are your best defense in a crash.”
Additionally, as motorists travel during the Fourth of July holiday, MDOT urges motorists to have patience as active construction is suspended but heavy congestion is anticipated, particularly on routes like US 50 and MD 404 heading toward Ocean City and I-95 north toward Delaware.
Motorists are encouraged to log onto www.md511.org for pre-travel information or connect to 511 from your hands-free mobile device.
Editor’s Note: Learn more about the MDOT Highway Safety Office’s Toward Zero Deaths campaign at towardzerodeathsmd.com/, on Facebook at @towardzerodeathsmd, on Twitter at @tzd_maryland, and on Instagram at twdzerodeaths_md. For the latest MDOT News, follow us on Twitter @MDOTNews and #MDOTNews.