Unfortunately, cities throughout our country, including Baltimore, are experiencing their roadways being turned into racetracks. And frankly, the last thing our emergency room nurses and doctors need is more business. So, absent reckless motorists having a sudden change in mindset, it is incumbent upon our elected officials to deploy solutions. One is the proven technological answer of automated enforcement, a featured issue in Wilborn Nobles’ article (”Baltimore County on track to set speed camera ticket record, as drivers sped up on empty roads during pandemic,” Nov. 16).
A recent review by the Congressional Research Service found that speed camera programs are effective in reducing speeding and/or crashes near cameras. Lower speeds ultimately mean fewer crashes and less severe crashes, which saves lives, prevents injuries and reduces costs for all. Three federal safety and health agencies, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), have all endorsed automated enforcement as an effective means to deter dangerous behavior on our roadways.
Additionally, the NTSB has touted the potential of crash avoidance technology in cars to prevent and mitigate motor vehicle crashes, which are responsible for on average nearly 36,000 fatalities and 2.6 million injuries each year. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has found remarkable results of advanced driver assistance systems reducing crashes.
Also of great concern is NHTSA’s recent announcement about an increase in impaired driving during the first half of 2020. This, too, is a perennial safety threat in desperate need of a technological solution. A new study highlights the potential of impairment detection systems, finding that upward of 9,000 lives could be saved each year if every vehicle was equipped with such technology. Thwarting attempts at drunken driving through technology would have the added benefit of reducing speeding as well, as alcohol impairment is more common among speeding drivers in fatal crashes than those drivers who are not speeding, according to NHTSA.
Earlier this summer, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a significant piece of legislation, the Moving Forward Act, that advanced both crash avoidance and impairment detection technology. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate has not considered the bill. These game-changing innovations combined with effectively managed automated enforcement programs can reduce the scourge of reckless driving. We encourage all those alarmed by “Wild West” encounters happening with frequency on our roadways to contact their local elected officials and members of Congress and urge them to advance these proven solutions.
Cathy Chase is president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
Dr. Richard Lichenstein is chair of the Maryland Teen Safe Driving Coalition.
A. LaToya Bates is program director of the Partnership for a Safer Maryland.
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