Sheriff Lewis reports record-low traffic fatalities

Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis announced a 50-year low in traffic fatalities in 2013 and 9 percent decrease in highway deaths since 2012.

He said officials are hoping for another decrease in fatalities, but that it depends on drivers.

“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,” the sheriff said.

Lewis said in Maryland, from 2009 to 2013, 856 people were killed in impaired-related crashes, accounting for a third of all traffic fatalities across the state. Almost 600 people not wearing seat belts died in crashes.

“Our law enforcement partners are out there strictly enforcing our laws, particularly when it comes to impaired driving and seat belts,” said Milt Chaffee, MVA administrator and the governor’s representative for highway safety.

More than 23,000 people were charged with driving under the influence in Maryland last year and there were tens of thousands of seat belt citations issued, the sheriff said.

“Penalties for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol are severe, including thousands of dollars in fines and fees, not to mention the increased risk of crashes associated with impaired driving.

“Drivers face fines of $83 for failing to wear a seat belt, a law that is enforceable in both the front and back seats,” Lewis said.

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