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Maryland launches Toward Zero Deaths initiative

Friday - 8/10/2012, 7:50am  ET

Thomas Warren, wtop.com

BELTSVILLE, Md. - In 2001, 486 people were killed on Maryland roads. Law enforcement officials want that number down to zero, and they hope a new strategy will help them hit the target.

The state this month joined others around the nation in launching their own Toward Zero Deaths initiative.

The goal is to reduce the number of traffic deaths by half throughout the next 20 years, says John Kuo, administrator of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.

"Traffic safety is obviously of paramount concern in Maryland, because more people die in traffic crashes than they do in violent crimes," Kuo says.

Kuo spoke Thursday during a news conference at the Beltsville Commerce Center, where Prince George's County police announced the department would join the effort.

"I look forward to the future in Maryland where zero deaths on our roadways becomes a reality," Prince George's County Police Chief Mark Magaw says.

Howard County Police Chief William McMahon says he's seen too much carnage on the roads in his 28 years as an officer, and it's time to act.

"Four-hundred-eighty-six deaths in a different type of setting might shock people," McMahon says. "For some reason it's acceptable when it's in motor vehicles."

Maryland joins states including Minnesota, Utah and Oregon that have adopted the Toward Zero Deaths initiative.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)