U.S. Highway Safety Group Green Lights Maryland Traffic Laws, While Noting Areas that Need Improvement

Though Baltimore County commuters might beg to differ, Maryland has recently been ranked as one of the safer states in the country for motorists. (See related Maryland Injury Attorney articles below.) Now a new study released by a national highway traffic safety advocacy group ranks Maryland among states given a “green light” for basic traffic laws on the books.

However many aspects of Maryland traffic laws and regulations could use improvement, as the study authors — and experienced Baltimore County car accident injury lawyers — would agree. Let’s take a brief look at the study findings and recommendations.

Maryland’s basic traffic laws were given “green light” passing grades by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. The group is comprised of consumer, insurance, health, safety, and law enforcement representatives and conducts a national survey of traffic laws by state every year. Its report titled 2012 Roadmap to State Highway Safety Laws looks at 15 basic traffic laws covering a range of safety areas, including use of motorcycle helmets and seat belts, texting while driving, Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs, child safety seats, and ignition interlock devices for convicted drunk drivers.

States given a “green light” grade, including Maryland and our neighbors in Delaware and Washington, D.C., have 10 to 15 basic traffic laws on their books, including a primary seat belt law, OR 9 laws including primary seat belt enforcement AND an all-rider motorcycle helmet law. Other states with fewer traffic safety laws were given a “yellow light” grade (“caution”), such as Pennsylvania to our north. Those states given a “red light” (“danger”) grade are “falling behind” in national traffic safety and law enforcement trends (sorry, Virginia).

While the coalition commends Md. for our traffic safety laws, it nonetheless identified several areas that could use improvement to prevent serious and fatal traffic accidents. These include…

  • Adoption of an Ignition Interlock Law to stop Maryland drunk drivers from operating their motor vehicles under the influence.
  • Several provisions to strengthen a Graduated Drivers Licensing program (known in Maryland as our Rookie Driver / Graduated Licensing System). These include beefing up restrictions on cell phone use while driving, passengers, and night time driving; as well as setting a minimum age of 16 years for gaining a Learner’s Permit. Young, inexperienced drivers are at higher risk for being involved in serious and fatal auto accidents in Maryland, putting themselves, their passengers and pedestrians at risk.

None of the states surveyed by the Advocates for Highway Safety achieved a perfect score for all the basic traffic laws they recommend be on every state’s books. As long-time Maryland traffic accident injury attorneys, we’ll be interested see if Maryland adds teeth to any of our traffic laws (or adopts any new ones) in 2012. Related reading below.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney articles:

Maryland Car Accident Death Rates Down, But Many Traffic Safety Challenges Remain (Jan. 2, 2012)

Should Maryland Laws Banning Cell Phone Use While Driving Get Even Tougher? (Dec. 21, 2011)

The Number-One Killer of Kids and Young Adults in Maryland (Sept. 23, 2012)


Highway Safety Laws Needed in Maryland

2012 Roadmap to State Highway Safety : Press Kit (PDF)
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety Jan. 11, 2012
Related Web Resources:

Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration:
Maryland Traffic Safety Laws

Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration:
Maryland Driver’s Manual (PDF)

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