From the State Highway Administration:
Officials and Advocates Issue A Call to Action as Maryland Impaired Driving-Related Crash Fatalities Rise
In an emotional Annapolis ceremony, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown stood with surviving family members to remember those Marylanders killed by drunk drivers and issue a call to action during what is one of the deadliest times of year when it comes to drunk driving.
Noting that the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is historically when the largest number of U.S. alcohol-related traffic fatalities occurs, Lt. Governor Brown urged Maryland drivers this holiday season to “think ahead” and not drink and drive.
Augmenting his plea, a procession of Maryland families each bearing photographs of loved ones killed in alcohol-related traffic crashes began the state’s seventh-annual Maryland Remembers ceremony. Among them was Victoria Brown, who courageously recounted her horror when the car she and her family were traveling in was hit by a drunk driver traveling 100 mph on Interstate 83. Her son, 12-year old Darius, did not survive the impact.
In Maryland, 162 persons died in alcohol-related traffic crashes on Maryland’s roadways during 2009, representing almost 30 percent of the year’s traffic fatalities. Despite significant education and enforcement efforts throughout the State, including sobriety checkpoints and increased DUI patrols, the level of local drunk driving deaths increased from 2008 when 145 alcohol-related traffic fatalities occurred. Nationally, 10,839 persons were killed in alcohol-related traffic crashes in 2009 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“We are steadfastly working towards reductions in drunk driving related crashes here in Maryland, however it will be the marriage of public will and desire to bring the cultural shift required for continued and significant reductions in fatalities,” said Lieutenant Governor Brown. “The lives of those lost will not be surrendered to complacency, especially as we experience an unacceptable increase in impaired driving-related deaths in our State.”
In addition to paying tribute to Maryland’s victims of drunk driving and as serving as a call for safety during that holiday period when nearly four-out-of-ten U.S. traffic deaths are alcohol-related, today’s “Maryland Remembers” event served as the culmination of the state’s weekly sobriety checkpoint campaign, Checkpoint Strikeforce, and monthly dedications of sobriety checkpoints to Maryland’s drunk driving victims.
A recent public opinion survey of Maryland drivers (residents from Baltimore, the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., Hagerstown and Salisbury) conducted for Checkpoint Strikeforce, by MWR Strategies, found that more than half perceive drunk drivers as a dangerous threat with 61% saying drunk drivers are among the most serious dangers they face on the road. Sobriety checkpoints are also strongly supported with nearly nine out of ten Maryland drivers surveyed supporting the anti-DUI initiative.