BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A devastating trend. Highway fatalities across the nation are at an all-time high. That’s according to new federal numbers released this week.

Gigi Barnett explains local officers say many deadly accidents involve pedestrians.

Five hundred fatalities on Maryland’s highways. It’s much higher than the state’s murder rate, and new numbers released this week show Maryland is just a snapshot of a national trend that has highway workers here trying to lower those figures.

“We want to try to get that number down to zero,” said Maryland State Police spokesman Sgt. Marc Black.

Armed with new laws that target hand-held cell phones and all passengers not wearing seat belts, state highway workers fear they’ll see an uptick in the accident rate in the next few weeks.

“December is one of the biggest months for traffic accidents and fatalities because of drunk driving and driving at night when a lot people are out with various parties,” said Valerie Burnette-Edgar.

Police say checkpoints are on the way in the most dangerous spots.

“Once they find those areas, then initiatives are put in place to lower or to slow down those areas and those crashes,” Black said.

Total fatalities last year in the state were exactly 508. Of those, 99 included pedestrians. Nationwide, that same number increased three years in a row.

“There’s just no contest between a vehicle and a person. So even though you have the right of way and you’re driving, try to stop for those pedestrians and look out for them,” Burnette-Edgar said.

Federal figures show most of the pedestrian deaths happened at night in urban areas at non-intersections.

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