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Maryland Driving Safety Guide: What Drivers Should Know

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death in the United States, with over 100 people dying on the nation’s roadways each day. Millions of drivers and passengers are treated in emergency departments as a result of being injured in a traffic accident every year. Pedestrians, bicyclists, construction site workers and other bystanders injured by motor vehicles add more than 100,000 victims to these already-high numbers.

The economic impact of accidents involving cars, motorcycles, personal and commercial trucks, and other vehicles is out of control. In 2017 alone, the cost of medical care and productivity losses associated with occupant injuries and deaths from collisions exceeded $75 billion.

All Maryland drivers can play a crucial role in keeping our state roadways safe. This Maryland Driving Safety Guide offers answers to the following questions:

  • Which Maryland Counties are Most Accident-Prone?
  • What Are Common Causes of Motor Vehicle Accidents?
  • What Factors Play a Part in Maryland Motor Vehicle Injuries and Fatalities?
  • What Can Maryland Drivers Do to Help Keep Our Roads Safe?

Which Maryland Counties are Most Accident-Prone?

The State of Maryland averages more than 110,000 motor vehicle crashes each year, resulting in 50,000 people sustaining injuries and close to 500 deaths.

Motor vehicle accidents are spread out among every county in Maryland. For example:

  • Anne Arundel County reports an average of 10,100 vehicle crashes per year, with as many as 3,200 reported injuries and 40 fatalities. This includes the city of Annapolis. 
  • The combined Baltimore City and Baltimore County area has the largest number of automobile accidents, together averaging over 41,000 wrecks per year. 10,370 of these accidents resulted in injuries, with 102 of those ending in fatalities.
  • Charles County averages 2,800 crashes a year, all of which resulted in one or more persons injured, and as many as 20 resulting in one or more deaths. This includes the cities of Waldorf and La Plata.
  • Howard County averages 3,900 auto accidents, with 110 accidents resulting in injuries and 18 crashes leading to fatalities.
  • Prince George’s County has in excess of 16,650 motor vehicle accidents each year, with 4,900 resulting in injuries and 90 resulting in death. This includes cities like Laurel and Fairwood.
  • St. Mary’s County crashes reach 1,570 each year, with 580 of these causing injuries and 12 resulting in one or more fatalities. This includes towns like Leonardtown and Lexington Park.

You can find more information about your area’s accident averages by consulting the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Crash Summary page.

What Types of Injuries and Fatalities Occur in Maryland Accidents? 

Motor Vehicle Crash Statistics

The type of road a driver is traveling, the ages of the driver and passengers, the gender of the driver, and whether or not the people involved in an accident were properly using safety equipment can all contribute to the odds that a person will be injured or killed in an accident. For example:

  • 25 percent of all crashes in Maryland occur on county roads, with interstate and US highways close behind.
  • Maryland drivers between the ages of 25 and 29 are more likely to be killed in a car crash than people from other age groups.
  • 78 percent of all drivers killed in car crashes in the state are male.
  • In almost 28 percent of driver fatalities in Maryland, the person killed was not properly using safety equipment, such as seatbelts, child safety seats, motorcycle helmets or airbags.
  • Half of the people injured in car accidents are under 30 years old; and 30 percent of those are children.

What are The Most Dangerous Intersections and Roads in Maryland? 

  • In Laurel Maryland, the Intersection located Eastbound Gorman Avenue at Southbound U.S. 1 is considered one of the worst. This leads drivers through roads like second street and Fort Meade road.
  • Route 50 and I-97 had 6 deaths over just a span of 18 months in 2017-2018 due to head-on crashes. Interstate 97 has reported to have 0.79 fatalities per mile on a stretch 17.62 miles long
  • Indian Head Highway (Maryland Route 210) has seen a decrease in the amount of deaths as of 2020, but is known to have a high amount of fatal crashes. This is due to having three lanes of traffic and hilly road surfaces that lead to cars traveling at highway speed. In 2019 there were 30,000 citations along Indian Head Highway for infractions related to impaired driving, aggressive driving, distracted driving and speeding.

What Are Common Causes of Motor Vehicle Accidents?

Some of the most common causes of car, motorcycle and other motor vehicle accidents ar

Driving While Distracted

Distracted driving accounts for 58 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in Maryland. Using smartphones to text, talk and search for directions; consulting a dashboard GPS and playing around with automobile sound systems; and letting your attention become diverted by passengers, children, and pets in the vehicle are just a few of the ways drivers let themselves become distracted. It only takes a few short seconds of distracted driving for devastation to occur.

Impaired Driving

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a recipe for disaster. One in three traffic deaths across the United States involves a drunk driver. In a national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.1 percent of Maryland drivers reported driving after drinking too much, which is higher than the national average of 1.9 percent.

Running Red Lights

Maryland ranks 18th nationwide in the number of deaths caused by running red lights. No matter how much of a hurry a driver is in, disregarding traffic signals and stop signs can result in serious accidents, injuries and death. It does not pay to rush.

Exceeding the Speed Limit

Speeding really does kill. It is the second most common cause of car accidents and is particularly dangerous on highways. Driving too fast for conditions — such as when the roads are wet and/or icy — is also a form of speeding, even if the driver is going the posted speed limit. The faster a person drives, the slower his or her reaction time.

Bad Weather Driving

Driving during heavy rain, through flooded roads or when there are high winds can all contribute to accidents. There is no substitute for using good judgment and choosing not to drive in dangerous weather conditions.

Aggressive Driving

Drivers who are reckless or enraged put everyone on the road at risk. Aggressive driving includes exceeding the speed limit, tailgating other motorists and changing lanes too quickly. Signs of road rage can include all of these behaviors plus purposefully targeting another motorist and interfering with their ability to safely operate their motor vehicle.

Nighttime Driving

Nighttime drivers have reduced visibility, making obstructions on the road and other types of hazards hard to detect. It is harder to stay completely alert on pitch black roadways. Drivers who have difficulty seeing at night should refrain from driving after dark. Others need to keep lights on bright unless it would interfere with the safe driving of oncoming traffic.

What Can Every Maryland Driver Do to Help Keep Our Roads Safe?

  • Don’t exceed the speed limit and don’t drive too slowly. Both are unsafe and can cause accidents.
  • Never drink and drive.
  • Do not drive when you are tired. Check prescription medications to make sure they do not cause drowsiness and if they do, do not drive.
  • Do not drive when you are angry; pull over and cool off before getting back on the road.
  • Do not be a distracted driver! Never use electronic devices like a cell phone when driving.
  • Wear your seatbelt correctly — over the shoulder and across the lap. 
  • Keep enough distance between you and the car in front of you; do not tailgate.
  • Be extra cautious at intersections; always use turn signals.
  • Be extremely careful at train tracks; never try to outrun an approaching train.
  • When making a left-hand turn, always pay attention to oncoming traffic and take your time crossing the roadway.
  • Always check your blind spot when backing up or changing lanes.
  • Drive safely for current road conditions; avoid driving in ice and snow, if possible.
  • Make sure your car is in good repair and keep your gas tank full.
  • Check your tires monthly for wear and make sure they have the right amount of air.
  • Have your vision checked regularly and always wear prescription glasses; if you have night vision problems, do not drive after dark.
  • Try to purchase a car that has a good National Highway Traffic Safety Administration safety crash rating.
  • Check out the government’s safety recall information on a regular basis.

 

Maryland Driving, Traffic & Safety Resources