Continues Ocean City “Walk Smart;” Know Before You Go with 511 - Prompt “Reach the Beach”
(May 20, 2014) –   With Memorial Day marking the unofficial start of the summer travel season, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) is reminding all travelers of the rules of the road to reach destinations safely and smoothly. To promote safe travels for all, SHA is focusing on the Drive Smart!  Walk Smart!  Bike Smart! message – especially in Ocean City where concentrated efforts last year effectively reduced pedestrian fatalities along Coastal Highway by 100 percent and overall pedestrian-related crashes by nearly 60 percent.

To enhance overall mobility, SHA will deploy emergency response units to patrol metropolitan interstates and shore routes to assist stranded motorists and minimize delay. SHA’s CHART (Coordinated Highways Action Response Team) program operators monitor conditions and share information with motorists around the clock, assisting tens of thousands of drivers each year. Key travel information is communicated directly to the public through 511, Maryland’s travel advisory service.  Know before you go - make a call 511 or visit the first step in your itinerary to avoid costly delays.

“Our mission at the Maryland State Highway Administration is to help travelers arrive at their destinations safely not only this weekend but every day,” said SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters. “Since sitting in traffic only fuels aggravation and aggressive driving, so we ask that travelers take advantage of the free 511 travel service Maryland offers.  We’re also reminding motorists to stay safe by driving attentively and sober.  Always share the road, buckle up and remember Maryland law bans hand-held mobile phone use and texting while driving.”

If you’re beach bound this weekend, SHA makes 511 even easier to use – simply choose your region, then prompt “Reach the Beach” for traffic incidents and travel times from east of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to the Eastern Shore.  You can learn the travel time for the entire trip from the Bay Bridge to Ocean City, as well as from the Bay Bridge to Easton, Easton to Cambridge, Cambridge to Salisbury and Salisbury to Ocean City.  Off to the lakes in Western Maryland instead?  The 511 travel advisory system provides road conditions and travel times for interstates and major highways throughout the State, including I-70 and I-68 heading west.

In addition to 511, the Maryland Transportation Authority also updates a recorded line specifically providing information about the Chesapeake Bay Bridge at 1-877-BAYSPAN and on the web at  Travelers can plan ahead and use EZPass to pay the toll to avoid delays.

More than 90 percent of all fatal traffic crashes are preventable, so be sure to keep the holidays a time for celebration with these helpful tips:

•  If you become disabled, never try to cross an interstate in search of assistance.  Instead, stay with your vehicle or move as far off the road as possible.

• Travelers with mobile phones can dial #77 to report disabled vehicles.  Call #77 or 911 to report suspected aggressive or drunk drivers.

•  Drive focused – Maryland law prohibits hand-held cell phone use and texting while driving.

•  Buckle up!  It’s the law in Maryland and your number one defense in a crash.

•  The National Click it or Ticket campaign will be underway; police will enforce seat belt laws.

•  Move over from emergency vehicles along the road  to an adjacent travel lane away -  Maryland law requires it.  Best practice is to move over for work crews and disabled vehicles as well.

•  Travel during off peak hours and allow extra time for unexpected delays.  Be “Road Ready” – Click here for major construction projects.

•  Take water, snacks and activities for kids.

•  Pack an emergency road kit for possible vehicle problems.

•  Check your vehicle’s lights, tires, battery and windshield wipers for proper operation.

•  Slow down and pay attention, avoiding distractions such as cell-phone use, changing CDs and eating. Observe all posted speed limits.

• Never drink and drive!  Designate a sober driver.

•  In the unfortunate case you are involved in a minor crash; please safely move your vehicle from the travel lanes to exchange insurance information – it is Maryland’s law.

• Place children in the proper child safety seats.

• Watch for pedestrians and cyclists.  If you are traveling to Ocean City, Walk Smart! Use marked crosswalks.

In inclement weather –

•  See and be seen.  Maryland State Law requires the use of headlights while windshield wipers are in use.

•  Wet road surfaces are not ideal and require even more attentive driving.

•  Slow down, increase your distance between the vehicles in front of you, avoid distractions and drive defensively.