October 3, 2011

MVA chief named safety representative

John T. Kuo, chief of the Motor Vehicle Administration, will serve as Gov. Martin O"Malley's highway safety representative, Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley announced Monday.

Kuo, the state's MVA administrator since 2006, succeeds former State Highway Administrator Neil J. Pedersen, who retired over the summer. Swaim-Staley said the state's Highway Safety Office, now a part of the SHA, will become a part of the MVA after a transition period.

As safety representative, Kuo will serve as Maryland's liaison to such agencies as the National Highway Traffic safety Administration and to private safety advocacy groups. At the MVA, Kuo has played a major role in developing the state's graduated licensing program for new drivers.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:39 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Road safety

September 1, 2011

Report: Worst drivers in America are in Baltimore

Allstate Insurance today released its annual "America's Best Drivers" report ranking the largest U.S. cities based on car collisions and there's good news and bad news for those behind the wheel in Baltimore.

The good: Our ranking didn't change from 2010. We're still ranked 192.

The bad: We're still ranked 192 - the lowest ranking is 193.

America's safety driving city, for the second year in a row, according to Allstate, is Fort Collins, Colo., with drivers averaging about 14 years between collisions. In Fort Collins, drivers are 28.6 percent less likely to have an accident, compared to the national average.

In Baltimore, drivers average about 5 years between wrecks and are 88.7 percent more likely to have an accident, compared to the national average.

So, where are the drivers that are even worse than those in Baltimore? Better stay off the sidewalks in Washington.

Posted by Michelle Deal-Zimmerman at 1:26 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Road safety

February 22, 2011

Hoot of the day: Bereano as safety advocate

Is there any limit to chutzpah in Annapolis? Not so long as Bruce C. Bereano is around.

Bereano, the leadfoot lobbyist who has amassed a collection of dozens of speeding tickets, did his impression of a highway safety advocate yesterday as he testified on a bill that would allow local school boards and law enforcement agencies to install cameras in school buses to enforce the law prohibiting drivers from passing such vehicles when they are parked with their flashing red lights on and stop sign extended.

Originally signed up in opposition, after listening to compelling testimony on the extent of the problem, Bereano abruptly switched sides when called to the witness stand and argued for an even stronger bill.

Passing a parked school bus, Bereano proclaimed, is "egregiously wrong" and deserves a higher fine than called for in the bill -- along with points for violators.

Continue reading "Hoot of the day: Bereano as safety advocate" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:14 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Road safety

November 5, 2010

Blogger slams columnist on speed cameras

One of Washington's fiercest (and best) bloggers has ripped a Washington Post writer over a column that all but condoned arson when directed against speed cameras.

David Alpert of  Greater Greater Washington does a pithy job of taking apart the Post's Petula Dvorak for her obsession with the sheer injustice of being caught breaking the law by one of those "horrid contraptions" in a column today. Instead, Alpert refocuses the debate where it belongs: the threat to human lives from speeding drivers.

Continue reading "Blogger slams columnist on speed cameras" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:10 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Road safety

October 6, 2010

State starts '511' service for travelers

The State Highway Administration has announced it will launch a free. round-the-clock "511" telephone service to provide real-time traffic information to travelers in the state.

The new system, provided by Televent of Rockville, under a five-year contract with the state worth $4.7 million, will start up in fall 2011, according to Gov. Martin O'Malley.

The SHA wil manage the statewide service, under which the contractor will collect traffic information from a variety of sources and provide it to travelers who place calls to 511. The informatiion will also be  made available through social network operators and a website. The 511 system is later expected to add a personalized service that will alert subscribers to traffic conditions via text messaging.



Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:55 AM | | Comments (3)

September 14, 2010

SHA to hold meeting on Rolling Road concerns

The State Highway Administration will hold a public meeting to present the results of a traffic study of MD166 (South Rolling Road) between Frederick Road and Blooomsbury Avenue in Catonsville. The meeting is set for 7:30 pm on Sept. 29 at Hillcrest Elementary School (cafeteria).

SHA says that residents have expressed concerns about speeding, aggressive driving and pedestrian safety along MD166. In response, traffic engineers have studied options to modify driver behavior. Those options will be presented and citizens will have the opportunity to comment.

Those who can't make the meeting or who want more information in advance can contact asst. district engineer Erin Kuhn or traffic team leader Eric Tombs at 410-229-2380.

Posted by Michelle Deal-Zimmerman at 11:43 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Road safety

September 9, 2010

Report: Traffic deaths at lowest levels since 1950

Traffic deaths

Well, Tom Brady may have started out his day with a two-car wreck in Boston - a minivan ran a red light and smashed into his Audi sedan, according to reports - but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said today that traffic fatalities are at their lowest levels in 60 years.

In 2009, the number of Americans dying on U.S highways fell to 33,808, down 9.7 percent from the previous year and the lowest tally since 1950.

Forty one states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, saw a decline in fatalities, led by Florida. Maryland had 547 traffic fatalities in 2009, compared with 591 in 2008, a decrease of 7.4 percent.

“At the Department of Transportation, we are laser-focused on our top priority: safety,” said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.  “Today’s announcement shows that America’s roads are the safest they’ve ever been.  But they must be safer.  And we will not rest until they are.”

The report said traffic fatalities declined nationally across all categories of vehicles, including motorcycles. Motorcycle deaths fell for the first time in 11 years.

In addition to the drop in fatalities, the number of injuries decreased as did the number of alcohol-related fatalities. However, in Maryland, the number of alcohol-related fatalities actually increased by 12 percent - from 145 to 162. Other states that saw increases in alcohol related highway deaths included Vermont, Kansas, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Washington.

The nine states that saw an increase in highway traffic fatalities overall were Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont.

Posted by Michelle Deal-Zimmerman at 11:44 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Road safety

September 3, 2010

Safest driving cities in America? Hint, not Baltimore

This week Allstate Insurance Co. released its annual "Best Drivers" report, naming the cities with the fewest car collisions and therefore - perhaps - the safest drivers. Needless to say, Baltimore did not make the list. Neither did Washington. In fact, most of the states in the Top 10 are in the Midwest and the West. Colorado had two cities in the top, as did Tennessee, which was one of only two states - the other is Alabama - east of the Mississippi to make the Top 10. The places on the list either have better drivers or more room to swerve.
Posted by Michelle Deal-Zimmerman at 11:13 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Road safety

August 12, 2010

Get breaking news on traffic, transit here

Has a four-vehicle crash closed the Jones Falls Expressway? Did a light rail train jump the tracks? Are hundreds of passengers stranded on a MARC train?

You can find out fast by receiving text message alerts from The Baltimore Sun's Breaking News Desk. Just click here to sign up to receive traffic alerts and other news as it happens. These are not routine announcements or advisories about everyday congestion but the type of major developments that can help commuters get to home or work faster.

There is no charge for the service from The Sun, though standard test-message charges from cell phone providers may apply.


Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:28 PM | | Comments (0)

April 29, 2010

"No Phone Zone" Day is tomorrow thanks to Oprah

Oprah No Phone Zone

Oprah doesn't have quite enough power to create a national holiday - I don't think - but she has declared April 30 "No Phone Zone" Day and several government agencies are backing the event. For months now, Oprah has been using her show to advocate against distracted driving. She has a No Phone Zone pledge that she's asked viewers, and even celebrities who come on her show, to sign up and promise not to text or use hand-held phones while driving. More than 200,000 people - including the cast of Glee - have taken the pledge.

Oprah will dedicate her entire show tomorrow to the campaign, which has the backing of the Governors Highway Safety Association, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and many others. Maryland's State Highway Administration also backs the effort and tomorrow will use the overhead highway signs to show its support, along with distributing a PSA video from administrator Neil J. Pedersen. Also tomorrow there will be events in some 24 states and several cities, including Washington, where a viewing rally will be held at the Newseum.

It's a worthwhile cause and hey, it's her show, she can do what she wants.  But I wonder when was the last time Oprah drove herself? I mean, doesn't she have a chaffeur? If so, he better not have a phone.  

Posted by Michelle Deal-Zimmerman at 2:40 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Road safety
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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.

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