Charles Sheriff Asks for Help Solving the High Traffic Fatality Rate

  • Charles County
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Following a year that holds the devastating record for the highest number of traffic deaths on Charles County road, fatal crashes continue to occur at an alarming rate.

Twenty-seven people have died in 24 crashes in Charles County so far this year, 12 of which were alcohol related. The Charles County Sheriff’s Office is committed to preventing fatal crashes but needs the public’s help to be successful, says Sheriff Fred Davis.

“Fatal crashes remain an enormous public safety concern,” Davis said. “We have not relented in our efforts to enforce traffic laws but motorists continue to make irresponsible decisions behind the wheel. We must work together to end that dangerous behavior.”

In 2005, 40 people died in 34 crashes on Charles County roadways and in 2004, 16 people died in 15 crashes.

The crashes this year are not specific to any particular area or roadway in the County. Speed, driver error and failure to wear a seatbelt are factors in many crashes. Half of the crashes have been alcohol related. Age is not a common factor.

So far this year, Sheriff’s officers have issued 1,673 child safety seat and seatbelt citations and 4,282 speeding citations. The Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police and La Plata Town Police have collectively issued 352 citations for driving under the influence.

The Charles County Sheriff’s Office enforces traffic laws year-round and heightens awareness about the importance of properly wearing seatbelts and using child safety seats during the annual Chief’s Challenge campaign held from April to June. During the two-month campaign, the Traffic Operations Unit holds random seatbelt checkpoints and sends notices to the media to raise public awareness about the Challenge. Some businesses also display messages on their marquees that remind motorists to buckle-up. Among its other traffic safety efforts, the Sheriff’s Office also conducts sobriety checkpoints.

What can the community do?

To help combat alarming traffic fatality and injury statistics, the Sheriff’s Office will continue to enforce traffic laws and to participate in public education activities. However, they need the community’s help.

“We do everything we can to enforce the law, but preventing a tragedy really begins with the decisions you make every time you get behind the wheel. Your actions impact your own life and safety and that of your passengers and fellow motorists. Driving is an enormous responsibility and everything you do counts,” Davis said. The Sheriff offered these tips for motorists:

• Wear your seatbelt and ensure your passengers – child and adult – are properly secured before you take the car out of park.
• Obey the posted speed limit.
• Adjust your speed to fit weather conditions. If it’s snowing or icy, the speed limit is sometimes still too fast. Make sure you have your headlights and your windshield wipers turned on when it rains.
• Make driving your priority. When something is distracting you – a cell phone call, a misbehaving child – pull over to the side of the road. When your main focus is not on the road, you shouldn’t be driving.
• Never get behind the wheel if you have had too much to drink.

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