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National Study Ranks Maryland Roads Near Bottom

Car accidents and other motor vehicle crashes owe commonly to driver error. Speeding, inattentiveness, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs ... each of these factors contributes mightily to the traffic fatalities and injuries that occur each year in Maryland.

The Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation reminds us to also consider other elements that lead to accidents, such as road congestion, deficient bridges, potholes and general road conditions.

The Reason Foundation has just released its 19th Annual Highway Report, a study that evaluates and ranks all American states. Based on scores, Maryland is not doing well.

In fact, the study indicates that the state is near the bottom - ranking 43rd - in highway performance and cost-effectiveness (last year it was 41st). It ranks 31st in functionally obsolete bridges and 48th in urban interstate congestion.

State officials have issues with both the rankings and the foundation's underlying analysis. State Highways spokesperson Valerie Burnette-Edgar says that study does not adequately take into account differences in road traffic among the states; rather, it simply lumps all roads and jurisdictions together in an undifferentiated manner, which skews results.

Her message: Maryland is not Montana. In the latter state, for example, few drivers avail themselves of vast and comparatively uncrowded interstates and rural roads. Conversely, about 80 percent of Maryland's motorists drive on 20 percent of the road surface, namely, busy interstates and other roads in one of the most populous corridors of the country.

Burnette-Edgar notes the "bottom line," which is that "money is being invested into the system to keep it in good shape and to keep it safe."

Other states at the bottom of the list include California, New Jersey and New York.

Related Resource: "Maryland tops list of worst roads; state says not so" September 7, 2010

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