Fatalities sign

The old sign outside the Maryland State Police Bel Air Barrack that listed the number of fatal car accidents, and how many of them were alcohol-related, was recently removed. A new one will be erected, but it's unclearwhen. (PHOTO BY MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF / January 10, 2012)

The grim-faced crash test dummies that have been warning drivers along Harford County's Route 1 for years about the dangers of driving, especially drunk, are a thing of the past.

The Bel Air Barrack at Maryland State Police recently took down its sign listing traffic fatalities amid plans to erect a more spiffed-up sign, Sgt. Chatfield said.

"It was old, and we are looking to get a new one," he said. "The old crash test dummies had gotten kind of stale."

He said barrack employees were asked for suggestions on the new sign's appearance, but the design process is still in its early stages.

First Sgt. Steve Seipp, assistant barrack commander, said the sign was falling apart.

"It was rotten anyway, and when [Hurricane] Sandy came, it just destroyed it," Seipp said. "That's why we decided to take it down."

Harford Technical High School worked on the original sign, and Seipp said the barrack may reach out to the school to see if it would be willing to contribute again toward a new sign.

The old sign featured two crash dummies and showed the number of fatal accidents in Harford County and how many were alcohol-related.

It also said "Buckle Up, Drive to Survive" and was sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

The sign's numbers did not seem to be updated for a while before it was taken down.

The county has handled eight traffic fatalities so far this year, Seipp said.

Crash test dummies became popular after a series of public service announcements started in 1985, which helped raise seat belt use from 14 percent to 79 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The dummies advertising campaign ended more than 10 years ago in 1999.