In Harford County, we are enjoying an all-time low in our Crime Rate. According to the Uniform Crime Report for Maryland, Harford County has the 2nd lowest crime rate in the state last year. But, during that same time, we had the fifth HIGHEST rate for crash fatalities.
And so, you ask, what can we do about it?
Harford County has grown tremendously the last few years, causing a significant increase in traffic on our roadways. With the addition of BRAC, we have both residents and commuters from other counties and states. Everyone's hectic schedule coupled with the tremendous strain on our roadways has made a very hazardous situation for our county.
The Harford County Sheriff's Office and law enforcement agencies within the county are committed to improving traffic safety on our roadways. The Harford County Traffic Task Force was formed approximately two years ago and is comprised of officers from each agency within the county - the Harford County Sheriff's Office, Maryland State Police Bel Air Barrack, Maryland State Police JFK Barrack, Aberdeen PD, Bel Air PD and Havre de Grace PD. The Traffic Task Force works one day a week in one jurisdiction, rotating weekly.
Additionally, last year, the Harford County Council, by resolution, created the Harford County Traffic Safety Task Force. Representatives of each law enforcement agency (Harford County Sheriff's Office, Maryland State Police – Bel Air and JFK Barracks, and the Police Departments of Aberdeen, Bel Air, and Havre de Grace), along with representatives from Harford County government, community organizations and community members studied Harford County's Traffic Safety Issues and recently released its final report to the Council.
Speeding and distracted driving is expensive. Nationally, motor vehicle crashes cost taxpayers $250 billion annually. In 2012, there were 5,708 reported crashes on Harford County roadways. There were 22 fatalities on our roadways in 2012. This year, Jan. 1 - May 31, there have been 3,114 reported crashes and 10 fatalities on our roadways. In 2012, the Harford County Sheriff's Office issued 41,579 citations and warnings. We are out there every day enforcing the motor vehicle laws. Between January and June of this year, 85 community members asked us to set up RADAR. In fact, most of the time you see us; we are responding the request of a concerned citizen.
As you can see, Harford County is being proactive in making our roadways safer. The goals of the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), Maryland Highway Safety Office (MHSO), and Harford County Strategic Highway Safety Plans are all focusing on zero traffic deaths by 2030.
Now, we need your support. That support comes in two forms – paying attention to your driving habits and being a good role model. New drivers mimic the driving behaviors of their parents. Make speeding and distracted driving unacceptable. It is easy to forget that when you operate a motor vehicle, you are behind the wheel operating a potential 2-ton weapon.
We can only do so much. It is time to change bad driving habits and encourage others to do the same. Leave a little earlier, ignore the cell phone and focus on operating the vehicle safely. Make a commitment to yourself, your family, loved ones or friends. The life you save may be yours, or that of a loved one.
Sheriff L. Jesse Bane
Sgt. R. Michael Lane
Harford County Sheriff's Office
This letter was written and submitted late last week, prior to the fatal traffic accident over the weekend.