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Addressing risks associated with commercial motor vehicles is an objective outlined in the Maryland Department of Transportation’s recently released highway safety plan.
The 2021-2025 Maryland Strategic Highway Safety Plan, released Jan. 28, identifies strategies and actions meant to help eliminate fatalities on state roadways.
Between 2015 and 2019, some 11.5% of fatal crashes in Maryland involved a commercial motor vehicle. As strategies to addressing truck-related risks, the plan proposes advancing efforts supporting infrastructure modifications to reduce fatalities involving freight vehicles and educating drivers, enforcement officers and motor carriers about trucking regulations and visibility issues.
“This [plan] takes into consideration every element of Maryland’s transportation network,” MDOT Motor Vehicle Administrator Christine Nizer said. “While the state has made strides in reducing fatalities and serious injuries, there is still more work to be done. We’re looking forward to working with our partners to implement this multifaceted approach to reach zero fatalities.”
The plan is supposed to help guide Maryland to its goal of zero vehicle-related deaths and serious injuries by 2030. Some 318 police-reported traffic crashes occur in Maryland every day. One person is killed every 16 hours as a result.
According to the Maryland Highway Safety Office, there was a 2.5% increase in statewide vehicle-related fatalities between 2015 and 2019. There was a 20.2% increase in serious injuries due to vehicle crashes in this time frame.
Also taken into consideration in the plan are rural communities and the heavy equipment that serves them. Rural crash prevention measures include fixed and mobile road signs warning of slow-moving vehicles, roadway maintenance, tree trimming to improve visibility and well-marked farm equipment and horse-drawn vehicles.
Other areas of emphasis described in the plan include reducing distracted and impaired driving incidents and curbing fatalities involving unrestrained travelers, pedestrians and bicyclists.
The plan identifies “four Es” to serve as a foundation in the agency’s effort to save lives: education, engineering, enforcement and emergency medical services.
State and local government agencies and law enforcement partners contributed to MDOT’s plan, which was developed after a series of focus group meetings in early 2020. The lead agencies that formed the plan are:
- MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration
- MDOT State Highway Administration
- Maryland Transportation Authority
- Maryland State Police
- Maryland Department of Health
- Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems
“Highway safety is everyone’s responsibility, and the 2021-2025 Maryland Strategic Highway Safety Plan reflects that collaboration and commitment,” MDOT Secretary Gregory Slater said. “The plan takes every aspect of safety into account for all users of our roadways. Moving forward, the partnerships that built this plan will help carry it through and help Maryland achieve its goal of zero fatalities and serious injuries.”
Traffic safety professionals from government agencies and private sector groups, as well as the plan’s executive council, will implement the plan. Local jurisdictions have been encouraged to develop strategic plans that are geared toward their specific needs.
Maryland leaders adopted the first Strategic Highway Safety Plan in 2003. State officials consult representatives of federal agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration as they update and revise the plan.
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