Preliminary data collected by the Maryland Department of Transportation indicates the state witnessed a seven percent year-over-year increase in highway fatalities, though the agency noted vehicle miles traveled increased two percent year-over-year as well.
Roughly 557 people died in traffic crashes on Maryland's roadways in 2017, up from 522 in 2016 and from 521 in 2015.
To reduce those numbers, MDOT is spearheading a five-year strategic highway safety plan (SHSP) that aims to coordinate federal, state and local resources with an aim to reduce Maryland's traffic fatalities by 50 percent over the next 12 years.
MDOT added that its SHSP addresses some of what it called "the riskiest driving" behaviors – including impaired, distracted, and aggressive driving and the failure to buckle up – as well as safety measures for pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists, plus engineering initiatives to make roadways safer.
Maryland's numbers follow the upward national trend for traffic fatalities over the last several years. Per data tracked by the National Safety Council, overall deaths from U.S. motor vehicle crashes dipped a slight 1 percent in 2017, claiming 40,100 lives versus 40,327 in 2016, but that 2017 figure is 6 percent higher than the number of deaths in 2015.
If its initial estimate holds, the NSC said 2017 would be the second consecutive year that U.S. roadway deaths topped 40,000.
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