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SHA Plans Improvements To Increase Road Safety

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There was a major announcement Tuesday from the State Highway Administration as they increase efforts to keep you and your family safe on the road.

Marcus Washington has details on the increased improvements.

Safety and mobility. That’s the push the State Highway Administration is focusing on as they respond to 44,000 incidents and emergencies a year.

Within seconds, a simple stop on the highway can turn deadly. It happened last November when a State Highway worker was hit and killed by a driver on the Baltimore beltway.

“We are prepared for any and every thing we run up on on the highway,” said Franklin Harris.

Fellow Emergency Response Technician Franklin Harris knows the dangers to himself and the thousands of drivers who find themselves in trouble on the road.

“I was braking and I heard a grinding noise. Something just didn’t sound right,” said Katie Wirth.

Wirth says she was one of them when she experienced car trouble on 95 North.

“About five minutes after I pulled over, a CHART truck pulled up behind me, which immediately made me feel safer because I knew that he was more visible than my car,” Wirth said.

More quick responses.

“We’re going to check on them to make sure they are okay. I’m going to call in to dispatch,” Harris said.

That’s what the State Highway Administration is pushing for with recent improvements. To improve assistance starting this month, the State Highway Administration doubled the number of Emergency Response Technicians to 48, who are now available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is also a move to incorporate more technology.

“Adding 74 new cameras over the next two years and 10 of those will be on a roadway where we have no coverage today,” said Melinda Peters, SHA.

Each year, the Coordinated Highway Action Response Team—or CHART—responds to 44,000 calls for help on the Interstate. They credit their response to decreasing highway deaths—in 2013, Maryland had 466, which is the lowest since 1961.

“I was really grateful that he was there. I know it would have been a lot scarier on the road for an hour and a half if he hadn’t been behind me,” Wirth said.

CHART says because of its responses, $1 billion in fuel and delay costs were saved in 2012 by drivers on Maryland highways.

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