Wicomico Sheriff's Office: Md. Traffic Fatalities at 50-Year Low - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wicomico Sheriff's Office: Md. Traffic Fatalities at 50-Year Low

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WICOMICO COUNTY, Md. – Maryland had a 50-year low in traffic fatalities in 2013, according to the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office.

Officials say highway deaths fell almost nine percent from 2012.

As 2014 draws to a close, highway safety and law enforcement partners say they are optimistic for another decrease in traffic fatalities, but says that reality rests in the hands of those traveling on the roadways.

“Ultimately, our drivers must do the right things,” Sheriff Mike Lewis said. “If people choose to go out and drink, we strongly recommend that they have a designated driver or get a cab home. And of course, we want everyone using a seat belt in every seat, every time they get in a vehicle.”

From 2009 to 2013 in Maryland, 856 people were killed in impaired-related crashes, accounting for a third of all traffic fatalities across the state, according to the sheriff's office. In addition, almost 600 people died in crashes where they were not wearing a seat belt.

“Our law enforcement partners are out there strictly enforcing our laws, particularly when it comes to impaired driving and seat belts,” said MVA Administrator and the Governor's Representative for Highway Safety, Milt Chaffee. “We are committed to our goal of moving Toward Zero Deaths on Maryland's roads and a driver making the right choices means that we can stop needless and preventable tragedies from occurring.”

More than 23,000 people were arrested for DUI in Maryland last year and there were tens of thousands of seat belt citations issued, according to the sheriff's office. Drivers face fines of $83 for failing to wear a seat belt, a law that is enforceable in both the front and back seats.

“Our first step is to try and educate people about making the right choices but when that fails, we make arrests and issue seat belt citations to deter people from breaking the law again,” Sheriff Mike Lewis said. “Each time someone gets behind the wheel after drinking or using drugs, it is a potential tragedy waiting to happen. Each time they drive or ride unbelted, they increase their risk of death in a crash by as much as 45 percent. Ultimately, it's up to everyone to do their part by always driving sober and buckling up.”

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