(May 26, 2022) – From the beaches of the Eastern Shore to the mountains in Western Maryland, travelers will return to the state’s roads and bridges in high numbers this Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day marks the start of summer for many Marylanders, and today officials from the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), Maryland law enforcement agencies, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and AAA Mid-Atlantic gathered at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to urge all travelers to put safety first and Keep Summer Alive.
“Summer months are when families gather to share time together and enjoy the beauty of Maryland, and we know many are planning to travel this weekend and over the next few months,” said MDOT Secretary James F. Ports, Jr. “If we all practice safe driving and look out for one another, we can make sure everyone arrives safely, enjoys their trip and returns home happy, healthy and with a lot of great memories.”
AAA Mid-Atlantic projects the number of Marylanders planning to travel this Memorial Day weekend is more than 814,000, with the majority – nearly 90% – driving to their destinations.
“Despite record-high gas prices, 35 million Americans – including nearly 730,000 Marylanders – are expected to hit the roads this Memorial Day weekend. Our roadways will be as crowded as they have been over the holiday since pre-pandemic, so travelers should plan accordingly,” said Ragina Cooper Ali, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic in Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Nearly half of fatalities on Maryland roadways occur from May through September. Officials are reminding residents of the most common causes of crashes and fatalities – all of which are preventable – and how they can “Be the Driver” who saves lives by practicing safe habits:
- Be the FOCUSED Driver: While the most common distraction is cellphone use, a distraction from tending to other passengers, eating, or adjusting the music/radio contributes to nearly 30% of roadway fatalities.
- Be the SOBER Driver or Be the MAKE A PLAN Driver: About one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities are attributed to the presence of drugs, alcohol, or both. Driving impaired is illegal and 100% preventable. If you plan to drink, make a plan for a sober ride home.
- Be the SLOW Down Driver: Increased speeds cause increased severity of crashes. Slow down to ensure you have enough time to react to situations around you.
- Be the BUCKLED UP Driver: Every trip, every occupant. It takes three seconds to secure a seat belt. More than 110 people are killed each year that were unbuckled.
“One of the best things about our great state is the many destinations it offers – and our priority every day is to ensure every person gets to their intended destination safely,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “We need motorists to focus on the task at hand – driving. Slow down, drive sober and take driving seriously. The lives of yourself, your passengers, and all who share the road with you is in your hands.”
Maryland State Police (MSP) Lt. Col. Roland L. Butler, Jr., said that no matter where in Maryland people are traveling, MSP and allied agencies will be on duty enforcing the rules of the road. Throughout the summer, law enforcement agencies will participate in high-visibility enforcement efforts for impaired driving, seat belt use, speeding/aggressive driving, and distracted driving.
“As we prepare for increased traffic during the summer months, you will see a noticeably increased police presence,” said Lt. Col. Butler, MSP Field Operations Bureau Chief. “Together with our law enforcement partners, it will be an all-hands-on-deck approach to ensure that you arrive at your destinations safely.”
For those crossing the Bay Bridge, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) is advising that heavy eastbound traffic volumes are expected Thursday through Saturday, May 26-28, with heavy westbound traffic expected Sunday and Monday, May 29-30. The best times to travel the Bay Bridge this weekend include:
- Thursday, May 26 – before 10 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
- Friday, May 27 – before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
- Saturday, May 28 – before 8 a.m. and after 4 p.m.
- Sunday, May 29 – before 11 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
- Memorial Day Monday, May 30 – before 9 a.m. and after 11 p.m.
Motorists should stay on US 50 on both sides of the bridge to keep local roadways open for first responders and residents. All-electronic (cashless) tolling is now permanent statewide, with tolls collected through E-ZPass, Video Tolling or Pay-By-Plate. E-ZPass is the most cost-effective method, saving drivers up to 77%. Enroll in E-ZPass or sign up for Pay-By-Plate at DriveEzMD.com. For 24/7 Bay Bridge traffic information, call 1-877-BAYSPAN (1-877-229-7726) or visit Baybridge.com. Travelers can also sign up for email/text alerts at https://bit.ly/2Dh9EZn, and follow the MDTA at twitter.com/TheMDTA.
For those traveling along I-95 in northeast Maryland, Maryland House (mile marker 82) and Chesapeake House (mile marker 97) travel plazas are open for food, rest, and Wi-Fi access.
MDOT State Highway Administration will suspend major lane closures for non-emergency roadwork from 3 p.m. Thursday, May 26 through 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 31. MDOT SHA and MDTA patrols will be on duty to assist disabled vehicles and clear incidents. Go to roads.maryland.gov for real-time traffic information.
Maryland DNR and MDOT MVA team up for boater safety campaign
At Thursday’s event, Maryland Natural Resources Police Col. G. Adrian Baker discussed the important choices Marylanders need to make to ensure safety, whether they are on the road traveling to enjoy Maryland’s state parks or on the state’s many waterways.
“We want all residents and visitors to safely enjoy Maryland’s unique destinations and summer activities while putting safety first,” Col. Baker said. “Please remember to click it – your seat belt and your life jacket – and never drive impaired behind the wheel of a car or boat. Each of us has a responsibility to ourselves and to others in ensuring safe travel this summer.”
As part of its overall safety message,
MDOT MVA’s Highway Safety Office is launching the Keep Summer Alive campaign in partnership with DNR and DNR Police. Part of the overall Be the Driver initiative that stresses safe driving habits, Keep Summer Alive reinforces the message that sober driving is critical on and off the water.
If you plan to enjoy a day out on the water, ensure you have a sober ride home. Campaign ads will be shared throughout the summer on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, billboards and Pandora.
Learn more about MDOT MVA’s Highway Safety Office’s commitment to zero deaths on Maryland roadways at ZeroDeathsMD.gov and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at ZeroDeathsMD.
BWI Marshall reopens Express Parking ahead of summer travel season
For those traveling by air, passenger traffic is expected to increase this weekend at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. Travelers should give themselves plenty of time for airline check-in and the security checkpoint process.
At BWI Marshall Airport, passenger traffic continues to recover, reaching 18.8 million passengers in 2021, an increase of 68% compared to the previous year. Last week, BWI Marshall reopened its Express Parking, which was temporarily closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic. Express Parking provides an additional 1,400 spaces for customers ahead of the peak summer travel season.
Transit service operating on modified schedule Memorial Day
The MDOT Maryland Transit Administration will operate on a modified schedule on Memorial Day, May 30. CityLink and LocalLink buses, Light RailLink, and Metro SubwayLink will operate on the Sunday/Holiday schedule on Memorial Day, and Commuter Bus will operate Bus Route 201, running odd-numbered trips on the Weekend/Holiday schedule. MARC Train will not operate on Memorial Day.
MobilityLink will not operate subscription rides over the Memorial Day weekend. Customers must call the MobilityLink Call Center – which will be open on Memorial Day – at 410-764-8181 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to reschedule May 30 rides.