img source: washingtonpost.com

Over 143 million Americans commute on roads across the country every day. Millions more commute on foot or by bicycle. Unfortunately, traffic accidents claim over 30,000 lives annually, making US roads quite dangerous. Studies suggest that there are a few key issues such as congestion, distractions, aggression, and bad road conditions. Alternative transportation might also be another problem since many young Americans are ditching their cars in favor of environmentally-friendlier, healthier forms of transportation such as biking and walking. Most roads are not designed to accommodate mixed travel, leading to a rise in traffic accidents across the country.

Road Safety Across the Nation

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Even though many accidents are avoidable, they are becoming more and more common. Tens of thousands of people lose their lives in road accidents every year, while millions more suffer debilitating and severe injuries. From 2014 to 2017 the number of fatal crashes rose by 13 percent with the main causes being careless or distracted driving, driving under the influence, and the drivers’ age.

Florida, South Carolina, Arizona, North Carolina, and Tennessee are among the states that have the highest accident rates, while Alaska, Vermont, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and Minnesota have relatively low traffic accident rates.

 Road Safety in Maryland

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Although the state of Maryland is in the middle of the list for the number of crashes, its roads are still unsafe, especially for pedestrians and cyclists. However, compared to the previous year, Maryland’s roads are getting safer, at least a little bit.

Based on data released by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT),  511 lives were claimed by traffic accidents in the state in 2018. That is an 8.5 percent reduction compared to the previous year when 558 people lost their lives. The number of crash fatalities in 2018 is also lower compared to the 2016 number of 522.

According to professionals from Plaxen&Adler, P.A., most dangerous highways in the state include I-95, US-1, and US-301, while the main causes of injuries and fatalities on Maryland roads are failing to wear a seat belt, speeding, distractions, and impaired driving. Cyclists and pedestrians are the most vulnerable when using the roads.

Policymakers, stakeholders, agency leaders, and advocates in the state are working on developing steps and actions for Maryland’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) which is a five-year program with a goal of decreasing the number of serious injuries and traffic fatalities by half until 2030. The SHSP is meant to address major areas of traffic safety such as highway infrastructure, seat belt use, aggressive, impaired, or distracted driving, and pedestrian and cyclist safety.

Safety Precautions

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Being a safe and responsible traveler is an action any commuter can take and it can drastically improve road safety. Drivers should always wear seat belts, slow down, avoid distractions such as smartphones, and never drive impaired. When driving, they should always be on a lookout for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists. Pedestrians need to be especially responsible and vigilant on Maryland’s highways and rail facilities. This will help both drivers and walkers stay safe. Regular maintenance is also extremely important to make sure your vehicle is in top condition. This includes maintenance of tires, lights, the cooling system, fluid levels, hoses, belts, and wiper blades.

Conclusion

Although Maryland’s roads are getting safer compared to previous years, drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike should do their best to help improve road safety in the state. Being vigilant and taking certain safety and precaution measures can greatly aid in achieving this.

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