BALTIMORE, MD—With AAA predicting that 960,000 Marylanders are expected to travel by automobile this Fourth of July weekend, additional Maryland State Police troopers will be on patrol and using a variety of initiatives to keep traffic moving, respond quickly to highway incidents, and take appropriate enforcement action when violations are observed that threaten the safety of travelers.
Beginning on Friday, troopers will be focusing enforcement efforts on impaired driving, aggressive driving, speeding, distracted driving, and other violations that often contribute to highway tragedies. Additional troopers will be working overtime assignments funded by highway safety grants from the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office.
Among the troopers participating will be those from the State Police Impaired Driving Reduction Effort, or SPIDRE, Team. Formed in 2013, SPIDRE is a specially trained team of five troopers who work in targeted areas in the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan area where impaired driving is a leading cause of death and injury. Team members train other state police troopers and local law enforcement officers and partner with local police departments and agencies to reduce alcohol related crashes throughout Maryland. MSP and MDOT MVA’s Highway Safety Office provide funding for this effort. Since its inception, SPIDRE has been responsible for more than 3,600 arrests for suspected driving under the influence.
This weekend also represents the continuation of the department’s summer enforcement efforts, which will remain intense throughout the summer. This initiative highlights how focused the Maryland State Police have been in 2021 targeting impaired drivers. So far this year, troopers have arrested approximately 3,300 impaired drivers, up 700 arrests from this time in 2020.
In addition to working enforcement in cooperation with local police departments, troopers will be working closely with personnel from the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration. MDOT SHA provides significant help arranging detours at crash sites and conducting courtesy patrols to assist motorists.
With so many motorists expected to be on the road, drivers can check travel conditions and delays before traveling. The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration provides up-to-date traffic and road conditions at roads.maryland.gov, or chart.state.md.us. Traffic conditions are also available at https://md511.maryland.gov, or by safely dialing 511 on your cell phone.
Between 2015 and 2019, more than 800 people died and more than 15,600 were injured in drug- and/or alcohol-involved crashes in Maryland. Last year, 574 fatalities occurred on Maryland roadways, an increase of 6.4% compared to 2019 even though traffic volumes were down as much as 50% during portions of 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data show traffic volumes returning; in recent weeks volumes have been down about 10% compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“With more motorists on the road today and traveling our highways throughout the holiday weekend, it is imperative to get the message out about the dangers associated with drinking and driving,” Maryland State Police Lt. Colonel Roland Butler, Chief of the Field Operations Bureau. “We know the facts. We know alcohol and drugs negatively affect a person’s ability to operate a vehicle. We know impairment of any kind affects decisions made behind the wheel. Bottom line, we know impaired drivers can potentially take innocent lives, yet people continue to violate these laws. Our troopers work alongside law enforcement partners throughout this state to combat impaired driving. We continue to explore innovative ways to cast the widest net possible to capture these criminals.”
Since the start of the pandemic, initial police reports show increased speed, instances of impairment and lower seat belt use as the most common contributing factors in motor vehicle fatalities. In addition to the SPIDRE team, impaired driving enforcement has occurred this year with state and local law enforcement agencies.