Cumberland Times-News

February 10, 2013

Maryland recognized for highway safety laws

Advocacy group says there’s still work to do

Capital News Service

— WASHINGTON — Maryland received a good rating for its highway safety laws in a report re-leased recently by a national advocacy group, but the organization said the state has more work to do.

In the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety’s 10th annual Roadmap Report, Maryland was one of 14 states (including the District of Columbia) to receive a positive, or green, rating. The state has both a primary enforcement seat belt law and an all-rider motorcycle helmet law, which are requirements for a green rating.

“Maryland has done a good job,” said Jacqueline Gillan, the organization’s president, after a news conference announcing the findings. “We would like to see them do better.”

The state received credit for 10 of the 15 provisions recommended by the group to combat injuries and fatalities resulting from inexperienced, distracted and impaired drivers.

The District of Columbia has 12 of the 15 recommended provisions, while Virginia has only eight, good for a yellow rating.

Specifically, Gillan said, Maryland needs to upgrade its teen driving laws, including enacting stronger provisions against driving at night, using cell phones and having passengers.

The report dings Maryland for allowing teens who are 15-years-nine-months old to receive learner’s permits, rather than waiting until age 16.

Buel Young, spokesman for Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration, said that “Maryland is in great standing compared to other states.”

But, he noted, Advocates’ ratings are based on public policy, not performance. “We’re looking on performance to see what’s actually working,” Young said.

While the state has seen a significant drop in young-driver-related fatalities over the last few years, Young said the MVA is “always looking to drive fatalities to zero.”