Maryland’s Road Fatalities drop by 8.5% but more needs to be done

New data from 2018 has been released at the annual Maryland Highway Safety Summit that shows that the number of fatal vehicle accidents is declining, with 2018 seeing a significant 8.5% drop. Officials are working together with the goal of reducing this further and urge the public to drive responsibly to help keep the roads safe for not only drivers but cyclists and pedestrians who are most at risk.

A step in the right direction

The data was released last month, in April 2019, at the annual Maryland Highway Safety Summit, revealing that 511 people lost their lives in vehicle accidents throughout Maryland. This is an 8.5% drop when compared to 2017’s figures where 558 people died. It’s also lower than the 2016’s data, which was 522 road-related deaths, showing a significant drop. The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Deputy Secretary Jim Ports has said, “While this decrease in fatalities is a step in the right direction, 511 people were taken from their families, friends, and communities… Every death on our roadways is preventable. Safety partners from across the state are here today to look at trends and outline the next steps to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the loss of life on our roads.”

The four Es to improve safety

The summit is an annual meeting of policymakers, stakeholders, agency leaders, and advocates. They get together to develop actionable steps for Maryland’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP). The SHSP is a five-year program that aims to reduce traffic fatalities and serious accidents by 2030. One of the main aims is to address traffic safety, including aggressive, impaired and distracted drivers, highway infrastructure, seat belt use, and pedestrian and bicyclist safety. The foundation of these lifesaving efforts is engineering, enforcement, education, and emergency medical services, known as the four Es.

Personal responsibility to improve safety

MDOT MVA Administrator Nizer, who is Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative, says the majority of road accidents are caused by “dangerous and selfish decisions” by drivers. Drivers are reminded to wear seat belts, never drive impaired, slow down and avoid distractions, and to always cover themselves and their vehicle in case of an accident. This will help to improve road safety for drivers, as well as bicyclists and pedestrians who have been identified as the most at risk on the roads.

While it’s up to officials to improve road safety when it comes to engineering and infrastructure, it’s everyone’s personal responsibility to drive safely and remember that an individual’s decisions can affect everyone around them.