While traffic fatalities have been trending in the wrong direction across Maryland and much of the country, the Baltimore region has fared slightly better than the rest of the state, according to figures presented by the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board Tuesday morning.
Over a five-year period, traffic fatalities rose statewide by just over 11%, from 512 deaths in 2018 to 566 in 2022. The Baltimore metro region — which includes the city and the counties of Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Harford, Howard, Carroll, and Queen Anne’s — experienced an increase of roughly half a percentage point, with 222 deaths in 2018 and 223 in 2022.
The five-year average for the Baltimore region was 225.6 a year, a roughly 1.6% increase from 2018. The average for the state over the same period was 549, a roughly 7.4% increase from 2018.
The region followed similar trends for both serious injuries suffered in roadway crashes and nonmotorist serious injuries and fatalities. Roughly 16% fewer pedestrians and cyclists were killed or suffered serious injuries in 2022 than in 2018, bucking the trend of the state, which remained largely flat during that time span.
Vehicle miles traveled — transportation jargon for measuring how much people are driving — dropped about 5.8 percentage points across the state over the five-year span, as car usage slowly rose to pre-pandemic levels. The Baltimore region logged roughly 5% less car miles in 2022 than in 2018.
The board’s presentation did not include statistics from 2023, which have yet to be finalized, according to Cindy Burch, a transportation planner at the Baltimore Metropolitan Council who focuses on roadway safety. A recent Baltimore Banner analysis of preliminary 2023 crash data collected by state police showed that Baltimore has made more progress in reducing pedestrian fatalities than other jurisdictions.
The board is the transportation planning arm of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council. The council helps guide local initiatives along federal parameters — any state transportation project that seeks federal funding must appear in the board’s short- and long-range plans, which are adjusted periodically.
The 16-member board, composed of county and city representatives and state transportation officials, then voted to adopt safety targets for the five-year span that concludes at the end of the year.
Three additional resolutions, including one that designates nearly 25 miles of roadways as Critical Urban Freight Corridors, were adopted by the board. The designation opens those roads up to additional federal funding opportunities worth up to $22 million, according to Todd Lang, the board’s director of transportation planning.
The roads were selected based on federal guidelines and already carry heavy amounts of truck traffic, said Keith Kucharek, a senior transportation planner and freight specialist with the board. The designation shouldn’t make truck traffic worse, but rather help traffic flow better in the long term, he said.
Two of the 12 road segments selected — a 2.5-mile stretch of Maryland Route 2 in Anne Arundel County and a 2.5-mile stretch of Route 140 in Carroll County — are slated to get additional lanes as part of long-term road widening projects.
The board also previewed the first meeting of the Baltimore Regional Transit Commission, set for early February. The commission will explore the possibility of creating a regional transit authority that would increase Baltimore’s power and oversight in transit decisions. Baltimore area transit service, including local bus routes, light rail and Metro subway, are run by a state-level agency, the Maryland Transit Administration.
Don Halligan, a senior transportation planner at the BMC, called the meeting a “next step in a long conversation that’s been going on.”