Glen Burnie, Md. (May 8, 2020) – Motor vehicle crashes on Maryland roadways claimed 530 lives in 2019, an increase of 3.7% compared to 512 deaths the previous year. Pedestrian fatalities declined 7.5%, with 123 last year compared to 133 in 2018. The 2019 data, released today by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), also shows a year-to-year increase in bicyclist fatalities, from six in 2018 to 10 in 2019.
people were taken last year from their families, friends and communities,” said
Transportation Secretary Greg Slater. “While everyone is taking extraordinary
steps to protect their own lives and the lives of their families during the
COVID-19 health emergency, it is critical we all remember the simple steps we
can take to save lives every time we get behind the wheel. Please remind your
loved ones to wear their seat belt, don’t speed, and don’t drive impaired or
distracted. These four actions could have saved the lives of hundreds of
Marylanders who died last year.”
The number of
deaths on Maryland roadways has fluctuated in recent years. There were 558
fatalities in 2017, including 119 pedestrians and 11 bicyclists. In 2016,
522 people died in state roadway crashes, including 111 pedestrians and 16
The 2019 data is
being announced at a time when vehicle traffic volume across Maryland is down
about 45% as drivers heed Governor Larry Hogan’s stay-at-home order limiting
non-essential travel due to the COVID-19 health emergency. Truck traffic is
down less, about 22%, as truckers continue working to keep Maryland’s supply
chain open and deliver critical items to stores, pharmacies and hospitals.
Highway safety officials say despite the overall decrease in traffic volume, dangerous driving behaviors have not taken a back seat. According to state law enforcement agencies, 69% of speeding citations issued from March 16 to April 17 cited drivers exceeding posted speed limits by 20 mph or higher. More than 375 citations noted speeds of 90 mph or more.
increased their presence on highways following a string of tractor trailer
crashes involving factors such as speed and distracted driving. Last week MDOT
teamed up with state police to spread the word to the trucking industry
and all motorists about the importance of maintaining safe speeds on Maryland
highways during the COVID-19 emergency.
“We need to protect
the safety of the essential workers we count on every day as we navigate this
pandemic,” Secretary Slater said. “Stay-at-home heroes are doing their part to
stay off the roads. Those who need to travel must do their part and slow down,
park the phone, move over for first responders and buckle up – every seat,
vehicle traffic has decreased during the COVID-19 emergency, pedestrian and
bicycle traffic has increased. To keep Maryland’s most vulnerable road users
safe, the MDOT MVA Highway Safety Office urges motorists to share the road and
respect all traffic safety laws.
“Every time you get
behind the wheel, you have the choice and responsibility to drive safely – to
protect yourself and other motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians,” said MDOT
MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s
Highway Safety Representative. “Even now, with fewer drivers on Maryland roads,
it’s imperative that we respect the rules of the road and take the time to get
to our destinations safely.”
During the COVID-19
emergency, travel should be limited to essential trips – to essential work
sites, hospitals, healthcare providers, pharmacies, grocery stores, banks, food
distribution centers, the homes of family members who need care, and similar
destinations. For those who must travel, MDOT and its partners remind motorists
that a few simple steps can save lives:
Up: Every Seat, Every Time. In 2018, 105 motor vehicle occupants killed in crashes
on Maryland roads were not wearing seat belts. Seat belts are one of the
best ways to preserve life in a crash.
a Plan. One-third
of fatalities and serious injuries on Maryland roadways involve an
impaired driver. Designate a sober driver, be the sober driver or make a
plan for a safe and sober ride home through a taxi, a rideshare service or
the Phone. Maryland
law forbids talking or texting on a handheld phone while driving,
including while stopped at a traffic light. According to the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sending or reading a text takes
your eyes off the road for five seconds. At a speed of 55 mph, that
equates to traveling the length of a football field blindfolded.
the Road. Drivers,
cyclists and pedestrians must look up and look out for one another and
obey traffic laws and signals. Always stop for pedestrians in crosswalks,
marked and unmarked, and give bicyclists at least 3 feet of space when
crashes occur when drivers exceed the speed limit or drive too fast for
the conditions. Leave a few minutes early and take some extra time to get
to your destination.
While this year’s
decline in pedestrian fatalities is good news, pedestrians deaths remain a
critical concern, accounting for nearly a quarter of all roadway fatalities. In
2019, MDOT teamed up with the Baltimore Metropolitan Council and local
government and law enforcement officials throughout the Baltimore region on a
campaign, Look Alive, that used television, outdoor ads, social media and
community outreach to stress pedestrian safety and awareness.
State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) is continuing pedestrian
safety initiatives in business districts and densely populated areas. Measures
include installation of traffic calming features, narrowing of lanes, reducing
speeds and constructing continental crosswalks. MDOT SHA also released its
draft Context Driven Access and Mobility For All Users guide, a document
promoting design solutions to enhance safety and accessibility for pedestrians
and non-motorized vehicles.
Maryland continue to examine trends, share ideas and discuss safety strategies
and programs to curb roadway injuries and deaths. In March, work groups held
virtual meetings to develop steps for the next edition of Maryland’s Strategic
Highway Safety Plan (SHSP), a five-year program to advance the goal of
eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030.
The 2021-2025 SHSP
will provide a framework to address major areas of traffic safety: aggressive,
impaired and distracted driving, highway infrastructure, seat belt use, and
pedestrian and bicyclist safety. The plan will focus on the Four Es –
education, engineering, enforcement and emergency medical services – as the
foundation for lifesaving initiatives.
completes its next Strategic Highway Safety Plan, we will continue to focus on
steps to reduce – and ultimately eliminate – fatalities on our roadways,”
Secretary Slater said.
Learn more about
the MDOT MVA’s Highway Safety Office’s commitment to zero deaths on Maryland
roadways at ZeroDeathsMD.com and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at zerodeathsmd.