From the Harford County Sheriff’s Office and Maryland State Police:
Throughout the holiday season, it is easy to feel rushed. Too often, we let day-to-day activities interfere with our focus when we are driving, but when you add the hustle and bustle of the busy holiday season, driving without distraction can be even more challenging. Therefore, during this holiday season and into the New Year, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office and Maryland State Police want to remind the citizens of Harford County, that now more than ever, it is important to slow down and pay attention when you are behind the wheel of a vehicle. Your safety and the safety of your fellow drivers are our #1 concern.
Traditionally, the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is one of the most deadly and dangerous times on our roadways. “Distracted and impaired driving can have dangerous and life altering consequences,” stated Harford County Sheriff L. Jesse Bane. “Our goal is to help our citizens avoid accidents if possible by reminding them to stay focused while behind the wheel.” Harford County, MD ranks sixth (6th) highest in the State (including Baltimore City) for vehicular accidents with fatalities. As of October 2010, there were 23 fatal accidents reported on Harford County roadways, eight of which involved motorcycles.
The County’s State ranking in traffic fatalities have raised serious concerns for Harford County’s local law enforcement officials. “These are not statistics to be proud of,” stated Lieutenant Chuck Moore of the Maryland State Police – Bel Air Barracks. Therefore, the Maryland State Police, Harford County Sheriff’s Office and the Maryland State Highway Administration have formed a strong partnership designed to educate citizens on the perils associated with traffic related offenses, while implementing a cohesive plan for aggressive traffic enforcement throughout the holiday season and into the New Year.
Several years worth of State Highway Administration, accident statistics and data have helped local law enforcement officials identify “high crash” areas in Harford County that will be targeted for enforcement over the next several months. Some of the key areas identified to date are:
• Route 24 between I-95 and Bel Air
• Route 40 between Joppa Road and Edgewood Road
• Roadways in and around the area of Constant Friendship
• Tollgate Road in Bel Air
• Box Hill Parkway in Abingdon
Traffic enforcement efforts will focus on correcting such negative driving behaviors as following too closely, speeding, reckless driving, cell phone violations, failing to wear seatbelts, and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/ or drugs.
Key educational messages that will be seen throughout the traffic safety initiative include:
• Don’t Take A Chance – Drunk Driving. Over The Limit. Under Arrest.
o No mater what you drive – a passenger car, pickup truck, sport utility vehicle or motorcycle, if you are caught driving impaired, you will be arrested.
o Driving with a BAC of .08 or higher is illegal in every state. Yet too many people still ignore the law. Don’t let this ruin your holiday season. Violators will be spending their money on bail, court costs, lawyers and towing fees instead of buying holiday presents for loved ones.
• It’s Time To “Put It Down” – Drivers Simply Can’t Do Two Things At One Time
o Drivers who use hand-held devices while driving are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves or others.
o The proportion of drivers reportedly distracted at the time of the fatal crashes has increased from 8 percent in 2004 to 11 percent in 2008
• Everyone Has A Personal Responsibility
o Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah)
o Distracted driving is any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing.
The Harford County Sheriff’s Office and the Maryland State Police – Bel Air Barracks hope to achieve the following in Harford County MD through this joint traffic safety initiative:
o Reduction in the overall number of crashes, specifically in identified “high crash” areas
o Education for drivers that may be committing traffic violation that lead to crashes
Through the combination of resources and education of the community, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police and Maryland State Highway Administration are striving to reduce the costs associated with accidents, while saving lives.