Car and truck collision deaths and injuries are on a steady decline in Maryland. The Maryland State Highway Administration has plans to reduce them further. Here is how.

Between 1997 and 2007, more than 6,900 people were killed in car and truck collisions on Maryland's roads. More than 640,000 people were injured and the estimated economic cost was a staggering $45 billion.

As we have reported here previously, fatalities and injuries from car and truck crashes are on the decline in Maryland. This despite more drivers, more people and more miles driven every year.

How is this possible? The answer is reflected in the Maryland State Highway Administration's annual 2008 safety report.

The report is part of a larger effort by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to work with state and local governments to implement programs calibrated to be effective in reducing car and truck crash deaths and injuries.

The report reflects a safety plan focusing on specific measures to reduce motor vehicle collision fatalities and injuries. These include approximately a dozen areas of attention.

The areas generally are: prevention of aggressive driving, older and younger driver safety programs, reduction of drunken and drugged driving, occupant protection (safety belts and car seats), motorcycle, bicycle and pedestrian safety, drowsy and distracted driving prevention and diversity outreach.

The plan also focuses on more effective policing, employer awareness of employee's dangerous driving habits and more effective media dissemination of vehicle safety information.

Most of the categories are pretty self-explanatory. Aggressive driving has been targeted by authorities for more enforcement and red-light cameras and other technologies are focused on its diminution.

Driver safety programs spotlight younger driver's inexperience and older driver's declining faculties, to reduce crashes and injuries. Alcohol has long been a focus for accident prevention and reduction and the applicable laws in Maryland have been steadily tightened.

Occupant protection has increased overall safety belt usage and has offered state-wide clinics in proper use of child safety seats.

Pedestrian safety has resulted in structural changes to intersections and roadways to provide safe-havens for pedestrians and safer places for them to cross busy roadways. 

Bicycle and motorcycle safety has taken two tracks, one focused on car and truck drivers who are encouraged to share the road and be more conscious of the presence of bikes and motorcycles and the second on encouraging cyclists to wear helmets.

Drowsy and distracted driving has also been a tandem approach, with new laws to outlaw texting while driving and media efforts to encourage drivers to pay attention and to be aware that studies have shown that cellphone use while driving can be hazardous.

Diversity outreach is a recognition that in areas like Langley Park, Maryland, many of the residents are from other countries where traffic danger is less great.

The media component is the final feature integrating all components of the program in an effort to reach wide-spread public awareness. We cannot eliminate car and truck crashes which result in deaths and injuries but Maryland's efforts to reduce them should be commended. For more see: