MDOT urges drivers, pedestrians to stay safe this Halloween

Linthicum Heights, MD – Halloween can be a fun time for both children and adults, but it can also be a deadly time for pedestrians and motorists. Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) officials are urging everyone to use extra caution along our roadways this Halloween and every day. Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn today was joined by MDOT Administrators and other guests to reinforce this message during an Impaired Driving Prevention and Pedestrian Safety Event at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum.

“As part of Governor Hogan’s efforts to prevent traffic crashes and save lives on our roads, MDOT strives to educate Marylanders about the dangers of impaired driving and the importance of being alert when walking,” said Secretary Rahn.

Impaired driving is one of the biggest threats to driver and pedestrian safety in Maryland. Between 2011 and 2015, more than 19,000 people were either killed or injured in a crash where drugs and/or alcohol were involved, and it’s estimated that drunk or drugged drivers are involved in about a third of Maryland’s roadway deaths each year. In Maryland from 2012 to 2016, an average of 151 people were killed each year in crashes involving an impaired driver. During the same period, there was an average of 3,494 injuries each year as a result of a crash where a driver was impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. Law enforcement utilizes several initiatives, such as the State Police Impaired Driving Effort (SPIDRE), the Chemical Test for Alcohol Unit (CTAU), and the regional Checkpoint Strikeforce program to seek out impaired and other dangerous drivers.

Another tool used to combat impaired driving is Maryland’s Ignition Interlock program—one of the most robust programs in the nation. The ignition interlock device prevents a vehicle from starting when it detects alcohol on the driver’s breath. Drivers are subsequently required to retest at random points while driving. Enrollment in the Ignition Interlock program has been bolstered by Noah’s Law, which was signed by Governor Hogan last year and took effect in October 2016. The law is named for Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta, who was struck and killed by a drunk driver in December 2015 while conducting a traffic stop for a suspected drunk driver during a holiday patrol.

Through its first year, Noah’s Law has saved lives in Maryland by having more people enroll in the Ignition Interlock program. Since Noah’s Law took effect, participation in Ignition Interlock increased in Maryland by 10 percent, and the number of first-time Ignition Interlock participants increased by more than 25 percent. Last year alone, ignition interlock devices prevented individuals from starting their vehicles more than 2,000 times when their alcohol concentration was above the legal limit.

“Since the passage of Noah’s Law last year, I have been extremely moved by the impact of this legislation,” said Rich Leotta, Noah Leotta’s father and a staunch advocate for tougher impaired driving enforcement. “More can be done and must be done. That is why we are forming the Noah’s On Patrol (NOP) coalition to work with law enforcement, the judicial system, state and local leaders, and the community to end this preventable and senseless tragedy from happening to others. It’s about saving lives.”

MDOT’s highway safety education efforts also focus on pedestrian safety in order to protect one of Maryland’s most vulnerable roadway users. On average in Maryland, more than
100 pedestrians are killed and nearly 2,500 more are injured by vehicles each year. October was the second deadliest month for pedestrian crashes in 2016, and the MDOT State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) and its partners have expanded the Look Up, Look Out pedestrian safety campaign this fall. This critical initiative urges drivers and pedestrians to literally put eyes on the road and watch out for each other, which is a message that becomes even more critical this time of year during the change back to standard time.

As night falls earlier in the day, trick or treating traditions will bring thousands of children onto Maryland roadways on Halloween, Tuesday, October 31. As an additional pedestrian safety effort, MDOT SHA is loaning reflective vests courtesy of the annual “Vests for Visibility” Program. Designed to be worn over clothing, the reflective vests help increase the visibility of pedestrians. The vests will be available at most MDOT SHA Maintenance facilities throughout the state through Tuesday, October 31, from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

“The Look Up, Look Out pedestrian safety campaign and Vests for Visibility program stress how critical it is for pedestrians to stay visible and for drivers to look for pedestrians, on Halloween night and every evening,” said MDOT SHA Administrator Gregory Slater. “With the upcoming time change, we urge drivers and pedestrians to follow the rules of the road and look out for each other.”

Finally, Marylanders are encouraged to seek other modes of transportation if they are impaired. The MDOT Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) features one of the largest multi-modal transit systems in the United States. MDOT MTA operates LocalLink and commuter buses, Light RailLink, Metro SubwayLink, Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) Train service, and a comprehensive MobilityLink (paratransit) system.

MDOT MTA also manages the Call-a-Ride system and directs funding and statewide assistance to Locally Operated Transit Systems (LOTS) in each of Maryland’s 23 counties, Annapolis, Baltimore City, and Ocean City. MDOT MTA’s goal is to provide safe, efficient, and reliable transit across Maryland with world-class customer service.

“With the numerous transit options available to Marylanders, there is no excuse for someone to drive impaired and risk putting themselves, pedestrians and other motorists at risk,” said MDOT MTA Administrator Kevin Quinn.

Maryland’s Toward Zero Deaths campaign continues to focus on preventing impaired driving, aggressive driving, and distracted driving while promoting seat belt use and pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorcyclist safety.

“Maryland’s traffic safety community has a clear and unified mission – to move the state toward zero deaths. This will not be an easy task, but we ask each and every one of you to partner with us to reach this goal,” said Maryland Motor Vehicle Administrator, and Governor Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative, Chrissy Nizer.

To learn more about what the Maryland Department of Transportation is doing to keep Maryland motorists and pedestrians safe, visit the following links:

Motor Vehicle Administration Program Interlock Program

Maryland’s Toward Zero Deaths Campaign

Maryland State Highway Administration Look Up, Look Out Campaign

Maryland Transit Administration

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