ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Travelers are expected to hit Maryland’s roads and bridges in high numbers this Memorial Day weekend with the state’s continued recovery from pandemic and the lifting of the statewide mask mandate. Today, the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA), together with its safety partners across MDOT and Maryland law enforcement agencies, joined near the Bay Bridge to urge all travelers to put safety first during the Memorial Day weekend and all summer long.
“As we emerge from one of the most challenging chapters we have ever faced, most of us are eager to spend time with family and friends and for many people, that means loading up the car and hitting the road for a family trip on Memorial Day weekend,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “Every year we encourage Marylanders to slow down, drive sober and take driving seriously, but this year especially, making poor choices behind the wheel is a matter of life and death for you, your passengers and all who share the road with you.”
Memorial Day marks the start of summer for many Marylanders, and this year families are eager to enjoy trips and activities that were not possible last year. AAA Mid-Atlantic projects that nearly 747,000 Marylanders plan to travel this holiday weekend.
With that in mind, Administrator Nizer was joined by MDOT Secretary Greg Slater, MDOT State Highway Administration Administrator Tim Smith, Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Executive Director Jim Ports, Lt. Col. Roland Butler of the Maryland State Police, Col. Adrian Baker, Superintendent of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Police and Ragina Ali of AAA Mid-Atlantic to encourage drivers to slow down, drive sober and buckle up all summer long to help end traffic deaths and injuries.
At the height of the pandemic, traffic on Maryland roadways was down more than 50% compared to the previous year. Yet despite lower volumes, crashes claimed 571 lives, an increase from 535 deaths the previous year. Initial police reports show increased speed, instances of impairment and lower seat belt use as the most common contributing factors in motor vehicle fatalities. As traffic volumes return to normal – now down just 8% statewide – it’s critical motorists avoid unsafe driving habits that can result in tragic consequences.
“Nearly half of all fatalities on Maryland roadways occur from June through September, with the deadliest month being August,” MDOT Secretary Slater said. “We know Marylanders are anxious to enjoy the unique destinations and summertime fun our state offers, so it’s critical we all remember and respect the responsibility we share when we get behind the wheel. Each of us has a role in making sure everyone arrives safely.”
As part of its overall safety message, MDOT MVA is launching the Keep Summer Alive campaign in partnership with DNR and DNR Police. Part of the overall Be The Driver initiative that stresses safe driving habits, Keep Summer Alive reinforces the message that sober driving is critical on and off the water, including for boaters. If you plan to enjoy a day out on the water, ensure you have a sober ride home.
Campaign ads will be shared throughout the summer on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, billboards and Pandora. The initiative will be coupled with high visibility enforcement across the state for distracted and impaired driving, speed and occupant protection.
Those traveling Maryland roadways this weekend can go to MDOT SHA’s roads.maryland.gov website for real-time traffic information and get 24/7 Bay Bridge traffic updates at 1-877-BAYSPAN (1-877-229-7726) or Baybridge.com. Travelers can also sign up for MDTA email/text alerts at https://bit.ly/2Dh9EZn. AAA also offers a free COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map and TripTik to help plan trips.
MVA branches closed Saturday, May 29 and Monday, May 31
MDOT MVA is also reminding customers that branch offices and Vehicle Emission Inspection Program (VEIP) stations will be closed Saturday, May 29, and Monday, May 31, in observance of Memorial Day. MDOT MVA branch offices will reopen Tuesday, June 1 by appointment only. VEIP testing will also resume June 1 and does not require an appointment.
MDOT MVA self-service VEIP kiosks, online services, and 24-hour kiosks will be available through the holiday. Customers are encouraged to check the MDOT MVA eStore – during the closure and during normal operating hours – to take advantage of many services available from the comfort and safety of home. A list of transactions that can be completed online can be found here.
In accordance with guidance issued by Governor Hogan, MDOT MVA customers and staff are no longer required to wear masks at branch offices and VEIP stations statewide. Please note, face coverings are still recommended for individuals who have not been vaccinated. For more information about MDOT MVA’s response to COVID-19 and additional resources, visit MVA.Maryland.gov.