Joint crackdown on traffic violations planned in Harford

Local law enforcement agencies say they will be concentrating on traffic enforcement in Harford County over the Christmas to New Year holiday period and into 2012, particularly in what are considered high crash areas.

Out of concern for Harford's high fatal accident rate, police say they will be cracking down on a number of dangerous driving offenses, including speeding, following too closely and distracted and impaired driving.

"Distracted and impaired driving can have dangerous and life altering consequences," Harford Sheriff Jesse Bane said in a recent news release. "Our goal is to help our citizens avoid accidents if possible by reminding them to stay focused behind the wheel."

The Harford County Sheriff's Office and Maryland State Police say they have formed the Harford County Traffic Task Force designed to educate citizens about the dangers of traffic-related offenses and to implement a cohesive plan for aggressive traffic enforcement throughout the year.

The objective of their joint traffic safety initiative is to reduce the overall number of crashes, specifically in identified high-crash areas, and to educate drivers who may be committing traffic violations that lead to crashes, the two agencies said in a joint news release.

Special attention will be paid to several highways where numerous accidents have occurred, according to Maryland State Highway Administration statistics and other data.

These high crash areas include: Route 24 between I-95 and Bel Air; Route 22 between Aberdeen and Bel Air; - Route 1 (Bel Air Bypass) between Bel Air and Hickory; Route 40 between Joppa Road and Edgewood Road; and Box Hill Parkway in Abingdon.

In noting that Harford County ranks fifth in the state among the 23 counties and Baltimore City in the number of fatal crashes, both the sheriff's office and the state police say they are concerned about these trends. As of this week, 23 people have died in traffic and pedestrian accidents on Harford County roads this year.

"These are not statistics to be proud of," Lt. Charles Moore, commander of the Bel Air Barrack of the Maryland State Police, said in the news release.

According to Moore and Bane, traffic enforcement efforts will concentrate on correcting such negative driving behaviors as following too closely, speeding, reckless driving, cell phone violations, failing to wear seat belts and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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