Maryland Car Accident Death Rates Down, But Many Traffic Safety Challenges Remain

As a new year begins, it’s worth noting some traffic accident statistics and trends for the state of Maryland. There’s some encouraging news, but many Md. traffic safety and driving challenges remain.

A recent story reported by CBS Baltimore noted that Maryland traffic accident fatalities decreased by 10 percent last year. The report pointed to statistics for 2010 released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to NHTSA’s findings, 493 motor vehicle crash deaths occurred in Maryland in 2010, compared with 549 in 2009.

A source from the Mid-Atlantic AAA reported that the decrease in Maryland car crash deaths can be credited to a number of factors. These include advances in automotive safety equipment such as air bags and anti-rollover technology, better road signage, as well as public safety campaigns targeting unsafe driving behaviors, including drunk driving in Maryland.

While this news is encouraging, experienced Hunt Valley accident and injury attorneys know — even one traffic death on Maryland roads is one too many. While the old adage “Accidents can happen” may be true in some auto crash cases, so many traffic crashes are preventable. Let’s take a look at a few of the major traffic safety challenges in Maryland.

Maryland Drunk Driving Accidents: Alcohol impaired driving remains a serious public safety concern, in Maryland and around the country. Drunk driving accident fatality rates go up around the holidays. NHTSA reports that 40 percent of US traffic crash deaths on major holidays involve alcohol-impaired driving, including those that occur on New Year’s, Memorial Day, and Fourth of July. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Fatality Analysis Reporting System, General Estimates System, 2009 DATA SUMMARY, Sept. 2011)

Distracted Driving in Maryland: Though Maryland cell phone use while driving laws are some of the toughest in the country — distracted driving, particularly texting while driving, remains a very dangerous practice. At present, Maryland law enforcement may only ticket drivers for texting if they’re pulled over for some other primary offense.

Teen Drivers in Maryland: Young novice drivers are among the most dangerous on Maryland roads and highways. Teenage drivers lack the years of driving experience and maturity of adult drivers — putting themselves, their passengers and other motorists at increased risk on Md. city streets, back roads and highways. The combination of teens, alcohol, and multiple passengers in a motor vehicle can be deadly.

Maryland Auto Crashes with Farm Equipment: Maryland’s many miles of winding back roads can pose a challenge to urban and suburban drivers — particularly those who aren’t prepared to meet a tractor, combine or other agricultural vehicle, or livestock in the roadway. Car crashes with these farm vehicles and large animals can be disastrous.

Maryland Road and Highway Congestion: Maryland motorists, your driving frustrations are real. Road congestion in and around Baltimore County remains some of the most frustrating in the nation. A CBS Baltimore report named I-70 in Frederick, Md. the eleventh most congested roadway in the nation. Road construction, which will eventually improve Maryland highway driving, nonetheless poses driving accident hazards for motorists, road construction workers, and police working details in road construction zones. Parts of the Baltimore Beltway / I-695 were ranked 92nd most congested in the nation.

We’ve a long ways to go to make zero fatalities a reality on our nation’s and our Maryland roadways. Have a safe and happy New Year.

Sources:

Md. Traffic Deaths Down 10 Percent
CBS Baltimore Dec. 8, 2011
New Road Congestion Study Names I-70 Nation’s 11th Worst
CBS Baltimore Nov. 15, 2011