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Prince George's County Dedicates a Police Unit to Reducing Maryland Car Accidents

Over the past two decades, nearly 20 percent of Maryland's traffic fatalities have occurred in Prince George's County. This figure is nearly equal to the combined highway deaths for Baltimore County and Montgomery County, which ranked second and third, respectively. In response, the Prince George's County Police Department has formed a Traffic Enforcement Unit consisting of eight officers who will target roads and intersections that are notorious for accidents involving motor vehicles and pedestrians.

Maryland State Highway Administration (MSHA) spokesman David Buck identified one reason why Prince George's dominates this statistic: high speed roads such as Routes 4 and 5 in close proximity to frequent pedestrian activity. Officer Henry Tippett, a Prince George's County police spokesman, highlights other factors: "What we're finding in a lot of accidents is, speed is a contributing factor, and also lack of an occupant wearing a seat belt," Officer Tippett told The Gazette. "In a lot of fatal accidents, they wouldn't have been fatal if a seat belt had been worn."

Of the 549 people killed in Maryland car accidents in 2009, 91 lost their lives on the streets and highways of Prince George's County. Pedestrian victims totaled 21, according to the MSHA, consistent with the county's unfortunate distinction of having the highest 12-year average of pedestrian fatalities, nearly one of every four statewide.

The Traffic Enforcement Unit will target local roads around the clock and increase radar patrols to detect speeding. Another likely strategy is the installation of speed cameras in the near future, which were approved last year by the Maryland legislature. The county has not announced how many cameras it will deploy, nor has it identified the precise locations for all types of targeted enforcement. But that mystery can be a powerful part of making drivers aware that they are more likely to receive tickets for illegal and reckless behavior behind the wheel.

Keeping Roads Safer: Early Progress

The unit recently announced one its first major successes: in late June, officers thwarted an illegal street racing operation after observing a large number of vehicles gathering at a park-and-ride along Indian Head Highway. "Illegal street racing will not be tolerated and we want to send a message to those attempting to participate in these types of operations," Deputy Chief Michael Blow stated in a department press release.

This renewed focus can also prove helpful to accident victims and their families, even though tragic accidents will still occur despite increased enforcement. Prompt accident response and detailed police reports can help car crash victims prove negligence and establish liability when they must resort to legal action. An experienced personal injury lawyer can provide timely guidance about your rights and options in the aftermath of a wreck.