FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|CONTACT:||Buel C. Young||MVA External Affairs|
MVA and Partners Issue Call to Action to Drivers This Labor Day Weekend
KEY TRAVEL SURVIVAL TIPS:
Drive Sober, Park the Phone, Wear a Seat Belt, Drive at Safe Speeds and Lookout for Pedestrians, Bicyclists and Motorcyclists
[Glen Burnie, MD]— As Marylanders head into the final big summer celebration this Labor Day weekend, state, private and public safety partners are encouraging drivers to take some simple, yet potentially lifesaving steps as they plan their travel. As Administrator of the Maryland Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA), Christine Nizer also serves as the Governor’s Highway Safety Officer. In this role, she is leading the charge to get the word out that people need to drive safely and make a plan during this busy holiday weekend.
“With plenty of people on the roads this weekend, drivers need to remember that their unsafe actions can mean life or death for fellow travelers,” said Administrator Nizer. “Safety is MDOT’s number one priority. We are committed to working with our partners to ensure that everyone makes it home safely.”
AAA Mid-Atlantic works hand-in-hand with MDOT to educate drivers on the importance of highway safety, and raise awareness of safer driving behaviors. AAA Mid-Atlantic is projecting an increase in the number of Marylanders that will be traveling this Labor Day weekend.
“Locally, approximately 733,000 Marylanders will be traveling for the Labor Day holiday,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Public and Government Affairs Manager Ragina Cooper Averella. “That said, many respondents in the mid-Atlantic region indicate that they will be going to cookouts with family and friends or relaxing instead of vacationing. Whether you are headed to the beach or taking a road trip to a friend’s house, you need to plan ahead and remember the rules of the road.”
Traffic crashes are one of the leading causes of death through age 44 and represent a leading cause of death throughout a person’s life. In 2014, 443 people lost their lives on Maryland’s roads. Impaired driving, distracted driving, excessive speed, and not using a seat belt play a role in the vast majority of crashes and traffic deaths in Maryland.
Because every loss of life is tragic, Administrator Nizer is encouraging drivers, passengers and pedestrians to remember these key rules of the road:
- Always drive sober. More than 23,000 people were arrested last year for DUI.
Plan ahead and make plans to have a safe ride home at the end of the night before you go out. Maryland even has an app called ENDUI that is free on the iTunes and Google stores estimates blood alcohol content (BAC), educates about effects of alcohol on judgment and decision making and provides transportation options.
- Park the phone before you drive. Pay attention when driving. Using a cell phone or sending a text while driving causes you to lose focus, and it’s against the law. In Maryland, it will get you a ticket of up to $160. Tens of thousands of crashes in Maryland are caused every year by driver inattention. If you are involved in a crash causing a a serious injury while using a phone or sending a text, you could spend a year in jail. The call or the text can wait. If not, pull over and find a safe place to use your handheld mobile device.
- Drive at safe speeds. Excessive speed decreases reaction time and increases the amount of damage done in a crash. Give yourself a little extra time to reach your destination and give adequate following distance. Conditions change frequently and you need time to adjust. Also, aggressive behaviors such as tailgating, passing on the shoulder and running lights or signs will result in tickets with large fines and points.
- Make sure everyone is wearing a seat belt, front or back seat, day or night. Many drivers know to wear their seat belts, but passengers, especially in the back seat, often do not wear their seat belts. Maryland law requires that all vehicle passengers, regardless of age, wear seat belts in every seat; failure to do so will result in an $83 ticket. More importantly, unbelted passengers can become projectiles in a crash and can cause devastating injuries to others in the vehicle, even to those that are buckled.
- Always look for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists. Drivers have to stay aware for people crossing the street. In addition, check your mirrors for smaller vehicles such as motorcycles. If you are walking,use crosswalks and make sure you are seen by drivers. If you’re riding a motorcycle, wear the proper protective gear. It could mean the difference between life and death in the event of a crash.
“Our goal is zero traffic deaths, and we can keep making reductions in the number of traffic crashes if everyone does their part,” said Maryland Highway Safety Office Chief Tom Gianni. “The life you save may be a friend’s, a loved one’s or even your own.”
# # #