ANNAPOLIS – Though statistics show that statewide crashes decreased by 6 percent from 2005 to 2009, motor vehicle laws will still be a major topic for the House Environmental Matters Committee this year.
The total number of people injured in motor vehicle crashes was down by 14.4 percent in the same time period, according to a presentation given by John Kuo, an administrator at the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, and Timothy Kerns of the University of Maryland National Study Center on Tuesday.
“What we’ve seen in Maryland reflects what we’ve seen nationally,” said Kerns.
With more than 8,000 violations in 2011, the use of cell phones, as well as distracted driving in a broader sense, continues to be a major concern.
Speed, impairment, such as alcohol use, and lack of seat belt use are three major factors that are seen repeatedly in fatal accidents.
“The fatalities occur at the times that congestion isn’t occurring,” said Kerns, indicating that most motor vehicle accidents are happening between the hours of 8 p.m. and 4 a.m.
But before moving forward with legislation, delegates said they needed more specific information on trends and correlations between accidents and factors that cause them. Legislators also want to focus not just on motor vehicles, but pedestrians and bicycles, as well.
“We have more questions than answers at this point,” said Del. Anne Healey, D-Prince George’s, who said that in her district in Prince George’s County pedestrian safety is a particular concern in congested areas.