(The Center Square) – More than 90 agencies in Maryland will receive more than $12 million in federal highway safety grants, Gov. Larry Hogan announced.
The grants are part of the state’s focus to prevent motor vehicle crashes and eliminate roadway fatalities, the governor said in a news release.
“With traffic already back to pre-pandemic levels, it is even more important that we continue working to make our streets and roadways safer and more accessible,” Hogan said in the release. “This critical funding will help us prevent crashes and fatalities all across the state and ensure highway safety remains a top priority.”
The state’s Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office will begin dispersing the funds Oct. 1, according to the release, coming on the heels of the Hogan announcing the distribution of nearly $1 million in funding to focus on pedestrian and bicycle safety measures earlier this year.
Last year, 573 people were killed on the state’s roadways, a significant increase from 2019’s 535 fatalities, the release reads. Last year, 138 pedestrians and 15 bicyclists were killed, compared to 125 pedestrians and 10 bicyclists killed the previous year.
The governor said in the release “the fatalities occurred despite average vehicle traffic volumes dropping as much as 50%” during the peak months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The highway safety funding will support efforts to increase the use of seat belts in all seats; prevent impaired, aggressive, and distracted driving; and increase safety for pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists, the release reads.
Funding, according to the release, will also be used to promote the correct use of child passenger safety seats; police training for highway safety and traffic enforcement; fund overtime enforcement for Maryland’s traffic laws; and increase the efficiency and capability of the state’s traffic data systems.
Gregory Slater, secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation, said his organization is “committed to eliminating fatalities” in the state’s network of roadways.
“That starts with working as a team with law enforcement agencies, traffic-safety partners, and the public in a multi-faceted approach,” Slater said. “The safety of Marylanders and visitors is MDOT’s top priority, and the distribution of these grant funds will help us move toward the goal of zero highway deaths.”
The state enacted Vision Zero in 2019, following the passage of legislation setting an overall goal of zero fatalities and serious injuries on Maryland roadways by 2030, the release reads. Vision Zero is part of the state’s 2021-25 Strategic Highway Safety Plan aimed at education, engineering, enforcement, and emergency medical services as an approach to reduce fatalities and injuries.
Funding from these grants can only be utilized for traffic safety initiatives, the governor said.