Road safety is of utmost importance for all drivers in Maryland. With over 17,000 miles of non-toll roads, over 2,500 bridges, and almost 5,200 miles of interstate, primary, and secondary roads, drivers mustknow road safety best practices.
Research by ZeroDeathsMD claims that in 2021 alone, there were over 108,000 traffic crashes on Maryland roadways, resulting in more than 500 fatalities and over 28,000 injuries. Statistics like this demonstrate why staying safe on Maryland’s roads should be a top priority.
By following some key road safety tips, drivers can reduce their risk of being involved in a collision and help prevent injuries and fatalities on the state’s roadways. Proper driving habits, regular vehicle maintenance, and emergency preparedness are critical for road safety.
Moreover, being aware of one’s surroundings, obeying traffic laws, and eliminating distractions can go a long way in keeping Maryland’s roads safe. With some knowledge and preventative actions, we can work together to make road travel in Maryland safer for all.
1. Have An Emergency Kit
Carrying an emergency kit provides essential tools and supplies in the event of a roadside emergency or extended breakdown. Include items like a first aid kit, flashlight, reflective triangles, jumper cables, traction aids like sand or kitty litter, basic tools, gloves, water, and non-perishable snacks.
Additionally, having the contact information for roadside assistance in Maryland can be a lifesaver, offering professional help if you face mechanical issues or other emergencies on the road.
2. Wear Your Seatbelt
One of the most basic road safety tips is to always wear your seatbelt when driving or riding in a vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seatbelts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half.
In Maryland, it is required by law for all drivers and passengers to wear a seatbelt. The fine for not wearing a seatbelt starts at $50. Make sure everyone in your vehicle is properly buckled before driving, even for short trips. Wearing a seatbelt properly can be the deciding line between life and death in a serious collision.
3. Obey The Speed Limit
While it may be tempting to drive over the speed limit, especially when you are in a hurry, it is vital to obey posted speed limits. Speeding gives you less time to react to hazards, making collisions more severe.
In Maryland, fines for speeding depend on how much over the limit you are driving. Fines start at $90 for exceeding the limit by ten mph or less and go up to $510 for exceeding 30 mph or more. Plus, points can be added to your license. To avoid speeding fines and increased crash risk, be aware of speed limits and do not exceed them.
4. Minimize Distractions
Driver distraction continues to be a major factor in traffic collisions, injuries, and fatalities. Any activity that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off driving is dangerous.
Remember, texting and driving are illegal in Maryland. Fines start at $83 for a first offense, going up to $160 for subsequent violations. But any phone use, eating, grooming, or other distracting activity can put you and others at risk.
Reduce distractions by completing activities before driving or pulling over safely to handle necessities. Stay focused on driving to keep yourself and everyone around you safe.
5. Check Blind Spots Before Changing Lanes
Neglecting to check your blind spots before changing lanes is a common cause of sideswipe and merge collisions. Be sure to turn your head and visually check on both sides of your vehicle before making any lane changes or merges.
Adjust your mirrors properly to minimize blind spots before driving. Getting in the habit of always double-checking can avoid hitting a vehicle or motorcycle.
6. Leave Ample Following Distance
Leaving enough following distance between your vehicle and the one ahead provides critical time to react to hazards and avoid collisions. Leave at least three to four seconds of following distance in dry conditions. More space is needed at higher speeds.
When roads are slick due to rain, snow, or ice, increase the following distance even more. If you are tailgating the vehicle in front of you, you dramatically reduce available reaction time.
7. Practice Defensive Driving
Defensive drivers actively scan for hazards, anticipate potential dangers and take precautions to prevent crashes. Never assume other roadway users will do what they are supposed to.
Look ahead for things like debris, stopped traffic, pedestrians, or sudden lane changes. Defensive driving also means obeying traffic laws, controlling speed, and not putting others in danger.
8. Maintain Your Vehicle Properly
Having a properly maintained vehicle is crucial for road safety. Critical components like tires, brakes, lights, windshield wipers, and steering must be in good working order. Conduct routine inspections and follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual.
Replace worn tires and get necessary repairs done promptly. Driving with defective equipment can lead to loss of control, breakdowns, and collisions.
9. Pull Over Safely If Necessary
If faced with an emergency situation while driving, carefully pull over and stop as soon as possible. Turn on your hazard lights. Pull into an exit lane or wide shoulder away from traffic if available.
Avoid stopping in hazardous locations like curves, hills, or narrow shoulders. If possible, get yourself and your passengers away from the vehicle and the road. Put out reflective triangles behind your car to alert other motorists.
Moreover, never attempt to change a tire or make repairs in an unsafe location. Only pull over when necessary and do so as safely as possible.
Safe habits and making smart choices behind the wheel are key to protecting yourself and others on Maryland’s roads.
By following theimportant road safety tips highlighted in this article, drivers can help prevent collisions, injuries, and fatalities. Safe driving requires focus, responsibility, and consideration for those around you.
Through increased awareness, prevention, and driver education, we can work together to reduce crashes and save lives in Maryland.