The 14 deaths in the final six months of last year included three friends who died when their vehicle ran off Route 646 in Street on Nov. 17, 2012 and the deaths of two people in a vehicle struck by a truck on I-95 in Abingdon on Nov. 24 that State Police say involved a road rage incident. Another death, on Sept. 6, 2012, was a veteran sheriff's deputy who was killed when his unmarked patrol vehicle ran off Route 1 in Darlington, while he was driving home at the end of his shift.
The Sheriff's Office has yet to handle a fatal accident investigation in 2013; State Police have investigated two since Jan. 1, Sheriff's Office spokesman Adam Stewart said.
This year's two deaths were on Feb. 2 and Feb. 21. In the first, a Baltimore man died when his vehicle went out of control on Route 40, near Mitchell Lane south of Aberdeen, and crashed into a guardrail, according to State Police.
The second death was a Churchville woman who was a passenger in an SUV was involved in a three-vehicle accident at the intersection of Route 23 and Grafton Shop Road in Forest Hill, which State Police say was the fault of one of the other drivers involved. Another death occurred at the same intersection last July 27. Despite calls for a traffic signal at that location, the State Highway Administration says their accident statistics don't justify one, noting that both recent fatalities were in accidents where driver error was the cause.
Media attention to deaths
In discussing the drop in accidents so far this year, Bane said Harford has been drawing attention to traffic fatalities and accidents through the media, both from reporting the accidents and from the efforts to educate people on the cause of fatalities.
The sheriff also noted that in spite of last year's high number, highway death rates in Harford had been going down from that high point in 2000-2003, when deaths were approaching 35 to 40 per year.
The combination of national, state and local efforts have all helped drive the rates down, he reiterated, but added there's more involved.
Just preventing deaths is not enough, Bane explained. Plenty of state and local resources go into handling even minor accidents and transporting victims to various hospitals, both by ambulance and Medevac, he said.
"It's not that we're concerned just with the fatalities, we're concerned with traffic accidents altogether," he said.
Aegis staff member Allan Vought contributed to this article.