There were fewer traffic deaths on Maryland roadways in 2013 than in any year since 1961, according to information released on Friday by Gov. Martin O’Malley.
O’Malley, who had Lt. Gov. and gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown make the announcement with him, said recently enacted laws targeting distracted driving and seat belt use have something to do with the drop to 466 traffic fatalities in 2013. That’s down from 511 traffic deaths in 2012.
The preliminary 2013 numbers were from the Maryland State Police. The statistics dating back to 2004 came from the State Highway Administration.
It’s the fewest amount of traffic fatalities in the state in 52 years, when there were 461 highway deaths reported.
Last year, the General Assembly passed a new seat belt law that required seat belt use for everyone seated in a vehicle. The legislature also made talking or texting while driving a primary offense, meaning police could pull over offenders just for talking and texting. Previously, a distracted driving charge could only be doled out if police had pulled over a driver for something else.
This year, the General Assembly passed Jake’s Law, a bill that made texting while driving a criminal offense. Jake was a five-year-old Baltimore City boy who was killed when a driver on his cell phone failed to notice traffic was stopped in front of him. The driver hit the car Jake was in at 62 miles per hour, yet his only penalty was a $1,000 fine.
There were 651 traffic fatalities in the state in 2006, the highest number in the last 10 years.