Vehicle crashes are no accident
Jan. 1 marked the beginning of a new year, and while it often signals a fresh start for many, it also brought about the same heart-wrenching headlines we have all become too familiar with. Within the first week of the year, seven pedestrians were hit in three separate incidents in Essex, Columbia and Aspen Hill. Four of the victims were children, three killed and the other critically injured. Days later, a Waldorf man was killed in a crash in Prince George’s County and a woman died after a two-vehicle crash in Frederick County. These are just a few of the multiple tragedies that have already happened on Maryland roads this year.
Over the last decade, Maryland has averaged more than 500 fatalities, including more than 100 pedestrians, and thousands of injuries, each year as the result of motor vehicle crashes. But those figures are more than just numbers — they’re mothers, fathers, children, siblings, friends, and coworkers. These crashes have tragic consequences and a profound effect on families and communities long after the headlines disappear.
We often hear the word “accident” when referring to a motor vehicle crash. That suggests the incident was unavoidable and no one is to blame. But in reality, 94% of roadway fatalities and injuries can be attributed to human behavior. The most common contributing factors to a fatality or injury in a motor vehicle crash are driving while impaired, speeding, driving distracted or failure to wear a seat belt — all behaviors that can be changed.
Last year, the Maryland legislature enacted a bill that set a goal of zero motor vehicle fatalities in the state by 2030. That goal can only be attained by all of us realizing we each have a responsibility — as drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians — to make the safest choices we can.
As drivers, park the phone, slow down, never driver impaired, look out for bicyclists and pedestrians and buckle up every time. Look out for our first responders and fellow drivers pulled over on the side of the roadway.
As pedestrians, be visible to drivers, look both ways before crossing, and cross the street at crosswalks and intersections. If you need to pull your car off the road, move as far off the roadway as possible and stay in your vehicle. If you have to exit the vehicle, make sure you are visible and stay as far away from traffic as possible.
As bicyclists, obey traffic signs and signals, wear a helmet and use lights at night.
Let’s change the conversation: motor vehicle crashes are no accident. They can be prevented, and we all have a responsibility to each other to make sure we make it home safely throughout 2020.
The writer is administrator for the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration.
Beware hackers and scammers
Besides getting a call from your “supposed” grandson, telling you he has been in an accident and needs money, hackers also get into your email accounts and go way back in years of your sent emails — and send emails saying they need a favor or telling you they are out of town and you need to go buy $400 worth of Google gift cards for your niece’s birthday!
I am writing this to warn everyone — don’t do it. I was just hacked and one of my friends actually did go spend $400 on those cards. Luckily, Comcast had directed me to a spot in my account, to uncheck and delete a forwarding email the hackers had put in. I had done this in time, to save her $400 in cards from going into their hands.
Any call or email, that does not sound right, call the involved person immediately. As I received many calls and emails and texts last week, I also learned some people had previously been scammed of thousands of dollars. Take time to think.