MD Crash Deaths Up This Year, Distracted Driving Is Top Cause

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Deaths attributed to car crashes on Maryland roads recently surpassed the five-year average with a month remaining in 2023, according to state data. A stock photo of a distracted driver is shown above. (Shutterstock)

Patch reporter Megan VerHelst wrote this story.

MARYLAND — Deaths attributed to car crashes on Maryland roads recently surpassed the five-year average with a month remaining in 2023, according to state data. At the current rate, Maryland is projected to record more than 600 fatalities this year — the first time that number has been recorded since 2007, state officials said.

As of Dec. 8, the Maryland Department of Transportation said 571 fatalities have been reported on state roads so far this year, surpassing the five-year average of 517 deaths.

So far, distracted driving has played the biggest role in car crash deaths in 2023, state data said.

Here's a breakdown of contributing factors in 2023 and the number of fatalities associated with them:

  • Distracted driving: 210
  • Speed-related: 148
  • Improper seat belt use: 119
  • Impairment: 102
  • Aggressive driving: 66

Among this year's deaths on Maryland roads, 139 people were pedestrians, 79 were on a motorcycle and 15 were bicyclists.

According to state data, car crash deaths have happened most frequently in the following counties:

  • Prince George's County: 113 deaths
  • Baltimore County: 74 deaths
  • Anne Arundel County: 40 deaths
  • Montgomery County: 40 deaths
  • Baltimore City: 39 deaths

See all crash statistics for 2023.

In 2019, Maryland enacted Vision Zero, an initiative setting a goal of zero fatalities and serious injuries on state roadways by 2030.

In 2022, there were 564 traffic deaths on Maryland roadways, including 137 pedestrians and 11 bicyclists. Police reports continue to show speed, impairment, and inadequate or improper seat belt use as the most common contributing factors in motor vehicle fatalities.

To help curb fatalities and injuries on Maryland roads, state transportation officials recommend motorists take the following precautions:

  • Drive sober: Drivers must never consume alcohol or drugs before getting behind the wheel.
  • Buckle up: All vehicle occupants must be properly restrained – front seat and back seat.
  • Slow down: Speed limits are set based on ideal conditions – drivers should always drive a safe, reasonable speed for the conditions.
  • Pay attention: Phone down. Eyes up. Eliminate all distractions and focus on the task at hand – driving.
  • Share the road: Drivers must look twice for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists.
  • Move over: Slow down or move over for all stopped, standing or parked vehicles along the roadside. It’s the law.
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