Maryland’s Lethal Interstate Roads
You might not realize it, but we have 16 separate interstate roads in our rather modestly-sized state. Almost 528 miles of the national Interstate System, championed and signed into law by President Eisenhower, run through Maryland. Six primary interstates and 10 auxiliary ones are part of our highway system. (Auxiliary interstates have three digits; primary interstates have two.)
Of the six primary interstates—68, 70, 81, 81, 95, and 97—four have appeared on a list of the 100 deadliest primary interstates in the U.S., from 2004-2008:
- I-95 covers slightly over 110 miles, running from Virginia to Delaware and passing straight through Baltimore, our state’s biggest city. The longest interstate in Maryland, it is number 23 for fatalities from 2004 through 2008, with 120 total, or 0.97 fatalities per mile.
- I-83 covers 34.5 miles, running from the Pennsylvania line to Baltimore. Despite its short length, it is number 53 for fatalities from 2004 through 2008, with 28 total, or 0.67 fatalities per mile.
- I-97 covers barely 18 miles, wholly contained within one Maryland county and not connected to any other primary interstate. At 17.62 miles, it is the shortest intrastate interstate road. Running from Parole to Ferndale, it is number 69 for fatalities from 2004 through 2008, with 11 total, or 0.57 fatalities per mile.
- I-70 covers 93.62 miles, running from the Pennsylvania line to Baltimore. It is number 81 for fatalities from 2004 through 2008, with 59 total, or 0.52 fatalities per mile.
- I-68 and I-81 do not appear on the top 100 list.
Of course interstates have played a major part in our country’s growth, making travel simpler and faster for commercial vehicles, commuters, vacationers, and emergency transport. But these high-speed highways are often the scenes of horrible accidents, with fatalities and injuries of all kinds.
What Causes Interstate Accidents?
Because of the speeds and the complex traffic patterns, interstate accidents can have a number of causes, sometimes more than one in a single crash. But certain causes arise consistently. Some of the more common reasons for interstate accidents are:
- Wrong-way driving. For some of us, it can be hard to fathom how someone could head up an exit ramp or drive headlong into traffic. And yet, such accidents occur. During August of 2015, a fatal wrong-way crash happened on I-70 eastbound in Hancock. And in a deadly 2012 wrong-way accident on I-97 near Millersville, the wrong-way travel was the result of drunk driving.
- People like interstates because you can get to where you are going without stop lights, stop signs, and such. But stretches of open road sometimes cry out for people to take advantage of the situation by driving faster than the posted limits, or faster than conditions would safely dictate. In January, 2016, a 44-year-old man died on I-83 in Parkton because he was speeding.
- Big trucks. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that more than half a million accidents each year involve trucks. Because interstates are popular routes for all kinds of trucks to travel, accidents involving trucks on our superhighways are not exactly rare. During June, 2016, a woman from Fairplay died and others were injured when a multi-vehicle crash was caused by a tractor-trailer on I-81 west of Hagerstown.
- Road debris. It’s estimated by the AAA Foundation that road debris is responsible for 25,000 crashes annually in North America, with approximately 80 to 90 fatalities as the result. All varieties of road debris can cause accidents: car parts, garbage, shredded tires from trucks, dead animals, and even furniture can create dangerous hazards at interstate speeds. While not local, one example of this kind of crash happened on the NJ Turnpike portion of I-95, near Kearny. Mattresses in the road caused an accident that killed the driver of a tanker truck when the truck crashed with another vehicle and caught fire.
- Here in Maryland, we get it all: sun, rain, snow, ice, fog, and black ice. On interstates at high speeds, bad weather can mean traffic catastrophes with dire results for the people involved. In January of 2015, all lanes on I-83 southbound at Northern Parkway were closed for a while due to icy conditions and multiple crashes. That same day, a 49-car pileup took place on US 40.
- Road construction sometimes seems to be never-ending on some of our interstate roads, and it is a contributing factor to many accidents. The frequent shifting of speed limits and the resulting traffic congestion, along with some drivers ignoring the speed limits and warning signs, create a great many accidents every year. The victims are not always in cars; a construction worker was killed on I-95 during 2015 near Beltsville because a tractor-trailer infringed upon a construction zone and hit two vehicles.
- “Driving while sleepy” is a leading cause of crashes, especially among those under 30. But all of us can be tempted to drive just a little further when we are tired and in a hurry to get somewhere. The estimates are that nearly 1,500 people die each year in the U.S. because the driver fell asleep or was too tired to pay attention. Road deaths increased during 2015 in Maryland, with driver fatigue one of the common reasons.
We’re listening. How can we help?
At the Law Offices of Steven H. Heisler, we have devoted our practice to defending the rights of personal injury victims. We know how traumatic a serious car accident can be for both the injured person and for his or her family. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a vehicular accident, you may be entitled to various kinds of financial compensation, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Keep in mind, however, that there is a statute of limitations – or a time limit – for filing personal injury claims. If you have been injured in an accident, you should not delay. Contact Steve today for a free initial consultation by calling (410) 625-4878, or use our online form.