​Drivers Urged to Buckle Up, Stay Alert, Obey Speed Limits and Move Over for First Responders

(July 1, 2021) – The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA)  reminds motorists planning to traveling over the Fourth of July 4 holiday to prepare for more drivers on the roads. MDOT SHA is urging motorists to allow for added travel time, buckle up, stay alert and move over for emergency and service vehicles.    

 “This is a good time to remind drivers to be alert for pedestrians, bicyclists and expect to see more drivers on the road than we experienced during last year’s Fourth of July holiday,” said MDOT SHA Administrator Tim Smith. “It’s important for motorists to park their phones, avoid distractions and obey the speed limits to ensure we all arrive safely to our destinations.”

MDOT SHA crews will suspend non-emergency lane and shoulder closures in high-volume regions across the state from Friday, July 2, until Wednesday, July 7. MDOT SHA will also deploy its Coordinated Highways Action Response Team, or CHART, units at key locations to assist motorists and keep lanes open.   

With CHART crews working within inches of moving vehicles traveling at highway speeds, drivers should follow the Move Over law to decrease roadside injuries and fatalities. The law requires motorists to move over a lane when approaching emergency, law enforcement, tow truck and  vehicles when they are stopped, standing or parked on a highway with their red, amber or yellow lights flashing. If a driver is unable to safely move over a lane when approaching these vehicles, they must slow down to a reasonable speed that is safe for existing weather, road and vehicular or pedestrian traffic conditions.

Motorists are encouraged to “Leave Early and Stay Late” when traveling to the Eastern Shore and travel off-peak to reduce congestion. When returning from the Eastern Shore, MDOT SHA urges drivers to stay on US 50 (Ocean Gateway), which is designed for large traffic volumes, even if mobile traffic apps advise other routes. Exiting onto local roadways will create significant congestion and could delay emergency response.   

MDOT SHA also advises that a quick vehicle inspection can help reduce the likelihood of a disabled vehicle and help keep lanes incident-free. Hot weather can take a toll on older vehicles. Inspect tires for proper traction and pressure, look for any vehicle damage, check belts and hoses for excess wear and replace hoses if you find a leak.   

Drivers should expect additional pedestrian and bicycle traffic around Fourth of July events. Stay alert and stop for pedestrians and pass bicyclists leaving at least 3 feet of space. Motorists are also urged to be aware of animals crossing roads. Fireworks can spook wildlife and domestic pets.
If you plan to drive over the Fourth of July holiday, MDOT SHA offers the following advice:

  • Buckle up. Make sure all passengers, including those in the back seat, are buckled up.   
  • Slow down. Observe all posted speed limits.   
  • Don’t drive impaired. If needed, designate a sober driver or use a taxi or ride service.   
  • Park the phone. It’s illegal to text and use hand-held cell phones while driving in Maryland.   
  • Pay attention. Avoid distractions.   
  • Move over.  Motorists are required by law to move over when approaching an emergency, service, utility or transportation vehicle or tow truck with red, yellow or amber flashing lights. If you can’t move over, slow down.   
  • Be patient. Travel during off-peak hours and allow extra time for unexpected delays.   
  • Don’t pull over on the highway to watch fireworks. This location puts you and other motorists at risk.   
  • Be prepared. In an emergency, those with cell phones can dial #77 to reach State Police. If your vehicle becomes disabled, pull off the highway as far as you can and call for help.

For a look at real-time traffic conditions, go to Have a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Editor’s Note

From intersection improvements to widening and new interchange construction, MDOT SHA is investing in projects to enhance the commute and daily travel for millions of Marylanders.  MDOT SHA maintains more than 2,500 bridges and 17,000 miles of non-toll state roads – the interstate, US and state numbered routes in Maryland’s 23 counties.