When your legal focus for thirty three years has been catastrophic car, truck and tractor trailer crashes in Maryland and the District of Columbia, it is inevitable that much of your website will focus on crashes that have already occurred.
Sometimes however, it is helpful to step back a little bit and to focus on what is being done to stop future car and truck accidents from happening. One of the best mechanisms for such an examination is Maryland's Highway Safety Office's Annual Report.
The report is "dedicated to saving lives and preventing injuries on Maryland highways", a commendable and highly necessary goal to say the least. Because of the length of the report this discussion will embody several articles across the future.
First the bad news, crash fatalities rose in Maryland between 2011 and 2012 from 488 to 511. The good news, an overall reduction in serious personal injuries. The objectives being pursued in Maryland and I suspect nationwide, are to focus on a group of specific areas of concentration that have been shown to reduce both incidence and severity of car and truck crashes.
These areas included a fous on impaired driving prevention, increased occupant protection, reduction in aggressive driving, reduction of or elimination of distracted driving, better young and older driver safety, improved motorcycle safety and a renewed focus on pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
This is a lenghty list and these goals are not new ones but efforts to look at each such safety area anew has produced some positive results.
Today we will focus on impaired driving prevention, and reduction of aggressive driving.
The Maryland Highway Safety Office (MHSO) reports that in Maryland in the last five years more than 8,000 impaired driving crashes have occurred per year killing 175 people per year and injuring more than 4,000 people annually. In 2013 funding for DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols increased and a new team of Maryland State Troopers was created, called SPIDRE, short for State Police Impaired Driving Effort.
Additionally, the state invested in an education effort through media outlets to discourage people from getting behind the wheel of their car or truck after drinking or taking both legal and illegal drugs which might impair one's driving capabilities.
Maryland has entered into partnerships with both governmental and non-governmental agencies to reduce alcohol-related car and truck collisions, has created county dui courts and has focused on efforts to reduce underage drinking.
Aggressive driving often is impaired driving, however, Maryland has calculated the number of aggressive driving crashes per year and the number is staggering as well. Almost 6,000 annual aggressive driving crashes with 52 deaths and almost 4,000 personal injuries per year , make combatting such driving essential.
Maryland's Smooth Operator Campaign, a fusion of increased enforcement and increased media attention, was the primary focus, with a secondary effort to reduce dangerous driving around tractor trailers and buses. Tractor trailers and buses are less maneuverable than cars and also cause far greater damage to surrounding vehicles in crashes. Also, bus crashes while infrequent in Maryland, are far more likely to involve a larger group of personal injuries when they occur.
A final but logical focus has been on increased overtime enforcement to ensure negliegent drivers are aware of their likely apprehension.
Tomorrow Clark and Steinhorn will focus on increased occupant protection and distracted driving prevention. Be careful out there!