CRASHES ARE NO ACCIDENT - YOU HOLD THE KEY
MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION LAUNCHES 12 MONTHS OF SAFETY CAMPAIGN
Laurel, MD (January 12, 2004) — Crashes are no accident: YOU hold the key! Today, the Maryland Department of Transportation launched its educational campaign – 12 Months of Safety – a call to action to motorists traveling within the State of Maryland. In a new partnership the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration, Motor Vehicle Administration and the Maryland Transportation Authority, together with the Maryland State Police, are stepping up their aggressive effort to battle the increasing number of traffic crashes on Maryland’s roadways. To truly make the State’s roads safer – we need you! This year make a New Year’s resolution that will save lives – join Maryland in 12 Months of Safety, review the rules of the road and drive safely. Remember that crashes are no “accident” - together we can prevent them! Today, drivers will be provided with wallet calendars at toll booths around the State – one part of a multi-faceted campaign to include public service announcements, comunity outreach and targeted enforcement.
At the Laurel Rest Area along northbound I-95, Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan joined Maryland State Highway Administrator Neil J. Pedersen, Maryland Transportation Authority Executive Secretary Thomas L. Osborne, and Motor Vehicle Administrator David H. Hugel in announcing a new multi-modal effort that will encompass the three “E’s” of transportation: Engineering, Education and Enforcement. Adjacent to police vehicles, a helicopter, and a crashed vehicle, Colonel Gary McLhinney, Chief of Maryland Transportation Authority Police; Major Nick Paros, Regional Commander for Maryland State Police; and crash survivor John Edwards, cab driver and Comcast employee, provided testimonials describing the devastating aftermath of vehicle crashes, and thus the value of enforcement and education in keeping motorists safe.
“Safety is our top priority,” said Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan. “Sometimes the most effective solution to a safety problem lies in a simple answer. We know we can save lives by reaching people before they get behind the wheel - convincing them to use seatbelts, drive attentively, never drink and drive and follow basic traffic laws. We are here today to remind people that we all play a role in highway safety and safety must be the primary concern every time a driver gets behind the wheel.”
On average, more than 630 people die on Maryland’s roads each year. In 1999, after a steady decrease in the number of traffic fatalities, the State experienced 598 fatalities statewide – the lowest since record-keeping began 30 years prior in the late 1960’s. The following three years, the trend line reversed, and the number of fatalities increased to 617 in 2000, increased again to 662 in 2001 and remained at 661 in 2002. To put this in perspective, statewide in 2002, there were 159 more people killed in traffic crashes than in homicides in Maryland, 502 homicides versus 661 traffic fatalities.
The objective of 12 Months of Safety is to save lives and reduce injuries by decreasing the number of crashes in Maryland through various targeted safety areas. Each month will highlight a specific safety topic, including: occupant protection, aggressive driving, driving in work zones, pedestrian safety, motorcycle safety, as well as special programs for young or rookie drivers and grand drivers.
“We are reminding motorists that crashes are not just accidents,” said State Highway Administrator Neil J. Pedersen. “The word ‘accident’ promotes the misconception that crashes are outside of human influence and beyond our control. Crashes remain, in fact, predictable results of specific actions such as alcohol-impaired driving, speeding and distracted driving.”
Officials emphasized that partnership between key agencies, federal, state, and local governments, and other organizations such as AAA, will be critical in saving lives. Last year, Maryland State Highway Administration’s Highway Safety Office administered nearly $11 million in traffic safety programs supporting the State’s community safety program in each county and Baltimore City, the Regional Safe Communities Program, targeted enforcement campaigns, police overtime and campaigns such as Smooth Operator and “Click it or Ticket. ” Due to these efforts, Maryland now boasts an 89% seatbelt usage rate, the highest on the east coast. The 12 Months of Safety campaign is expected to fuel similar success stories in traffic safety.
“The Maryland Transportation Authority continues to strive to make its roadways as safe as possible for motorists, police and our operations staff but we can't do it alone,” said Maryland Transportation Authority Executive Secretary Tom Osborne. “Partnering in the 12 Months of Safety campaign will strengthen the important roles each of our agencies and the motoring public play in making all of Maryland's roads the safest they can be.”