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For Immediate Release:
May 1, 2020

Contact: 
Erin Henson, 410-865-1025

MDOT AND MARYLAND STATE POLICE PARTNER TO
PROTECT ESSENTIAL WORKERS ON MARYLAND HIGHWAYS

(HANOVER, MD) – The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Maryland State Police are working together to get the word out to the trucking industry and all motorists about the importance of maintaining safe speeds on Maryland highways during this COVID-19 health emergency. With less cars on the road, more crashes are resulting in major highway shutdowns. Yesterday alone, there were five tractor-trailer crashes on the Capital Beltway shutting down this key lifeline for hours.

“It is critical to keep our highways clear to provide a safe path for essential workers to get where they need to go efficiently and safely: first responders transporting sick individuals to the hospital, healthcare providers traveling to work and truckers keeping the supply chain moving delivering critical supplies to grocery stores, pharmacies and hospitals,” said Transportation Secretary Greg Slater. “We need to protect the safety of all these essential workers that we count on every day as we navigate this pandemic health crisis. Please avoid the temptation to speed on the unusual open road. The stay-at-home heroes are doing their part to stay off the roads. If you do need to travel, please do your part and slow down, park the phone, move over for first responders and buckle up – every seat, every time.”

As of last week, average weekly traffic was down 49% on state highways and 55% on Maryland toll facilities compared to the same week in 2019. The average weekly truck traffic last week was down just 22% compared to the same week in 2019. 

"While our state agencies work together to combat the risks of the pandemic in Maryland, we will not ignore the danger to motorists on our highways that is caused by drivers taking advantage of the decreased volume of traffic," said Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel Woodrow Jones III. "Working with the Maryland Department of Transportation, we will continue our efforts to educate our citizens about the risks and conduct targeted and effective enforcement for those drivers who ignore speed limits, or drive aggressively, distracted, or impaired. Our focus is on both commercial vehicles and passenger vehicles. A number of recent crashes have involved tractor trailers, but not all have been caused by the commercial drivers. All drivers must remain alert, obey the traffic laws and drive responsibly."

Since March 1, 2020, Maryland State Police troopers have responded to more than 30 crashes involving commercial vehicles around the Capital Beltway.  While less than half of those involved injuries, even property damage only crashes can close some or all lanes on the Beltway and create significant traffic delays. 

Crash causes have included speeding, speed too great for conditions, driver inattention and faulty equipment.  However, multiple crashes involving commercial vehicles have involved passenger car drivers who struck tractor trailers.  In addition, some crashes occurred when a passenger car was riding in a tractor trailer's blind spots and was unseen by the driver during lane changes or merges.  

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