Drivers finally were allowed to drive 65 mph legally in a few remote sections of Maryland yesterday, but, as it turned out, few did.
State police said stormy weather and heavy holiday traffic kept drivers at bay and, for the most part, speeds down. As of 8 p.m. yesterday, no fatalities had been reported across the state.
At 12:01 a.m. yesterday, Maryland drivers were given the official go-ahead to pick up the pace on 265 miles of rural interstates, well away from urban and suburban areas, and state troopers said most drivers at that hour took advantage of it, immediately.
But by late morning, as weekend vacationers packed the highways -- and thunderstorms began spreading across central Maryland -- drivers at times faced speeds closer to 25 mph than 65 mph.
In one serious accident unrelated to the new speed limit, a car carrying five Pennsylvania teen-agers slammed into a Ford van on the shoulder of Interstate 70 about a mile west of Interstate 270 about 8:30 a.m. yesterday, closing the busy interstate 90 minutes and delaying traffic for hours.
The van's driver, Denver McCabe, 72, of Baltimore was admitted to Frederick Memorial Hospital, then transferred to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where he was in serious but stable condition late yesterday. His wife and the teens were treated for minor injuries at Memorial Hospital and released. The car's 18-year-old driver was charged with negligent driving, police said.