GLEN BURNIE, Md. – Many Marylanders are expected to travel on our highways during the upcoming long weekend, and historical trends indicate that increased holiday travel typically leads to an increase in motor vehicle crashes. To encourage safe driving behaviors, the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration’s (MDOT MVA) Highway Safety Office and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are teaming up for Operation Crash Reduction.
During this regional campaign, October 7-10, the Highway Safety Office and NHTSA are encouraging Marylanders to drive safely, avoid distractions and always use seat belts.
Law enforcement agencies will conduct high visibility enforcement to ensure drivers and passengers are following Maryland seat belt laws.
According to NHTSA, from 2015 to 2019, October has been the most likely month for fatal crashes in the United States, even surpassing holiday periods of Thanksgiving and Memorial Day. In these fatal crashes, more than 46% of occupant fatalities in passenger vehicles, trucks and buses were unrestrained.
“For several years now, we have had this troubling trend in this East Coast region,” said Stephanie Hancock, NHTSA Regional Administrator. “We know speed, distraction and impairment are the root causes of most crashes in these states. However, seat belt use and child safety seat use are your primary sources of protection in crashes caused by a speeding, impaired or distracted driver.”
In 2021, motor vehicle crashes resulted in 563 fatalities, and in more than 100 of those deaths, the drivers or passengers killed were not wearing their seat belts. In Maryland, every driver and passenger must wear a seat belt. Children younger than age 8 must be in an appropriate child safety seat or booster unless they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall or taller.
Maryland law also notes that if passengers younger than 16 are not wearing a seat belt, the driver may receive an $83 ticket.
“We know an increase in crashes typically occurs during the start of the autumn as the days get shorter,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “During Operation Crash Reduction, we’re working with law enforcement agencies to educate drivers and passengers on the importance of wearing a seat belt. Seat belts save lives, and everyone — front seat and back, child and adult — should remember to buckle up.”
States participating in the regional campaign include Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
Learn more about the MDOT MVA’s Highway Safety Office’s commitment to zero deaths on Maryland roadways at ZeroDeathsMD.gov and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at zerodeathsmd.