Friday, July 2–New Police Campaign Seeks To Curb Road Deaths

OCEAN CITY – On the eve of one of the biggest travel
weekends of the year, law enforcement officials from all over the shore this
week officially kicked off the second phase of the “Summer Heat: From the Bay
to the Beach in One Piece” program, an ambitious campaign to target aggressive

On Wednesday, the Ocean City Police Department welcomed
representatives from practically every law enforcement agency on the Eastern
Shore as well as the Maryland State Police for the official kick-off of the
second phase of the “Summer Heat” initiative with a brief ceremony and press
conference at the Isle of Wight Nature Park on Route 90 along one of the
gateways to the resort. The “Summer Heat” program, as the name implies, vows to
turn up the heat on speeders, drunk drivers, tailgaters, aggressive drivers and
even distracted drivers as they make their way east from the metropolitan areas
on the western shore across the Eastern Shore to the resort areas this weekend
and throughout the summer.

“Eight million visitors will come across the Eastern Shore
to Ocean City this summer and part of our job is to make sure they get here
safely,” said Ocean City Police Chief Bernadette DiPino. “We’re committed to
that job each and every day, day and night, 24-7, to keep our citizens safe.”

Last year, 3,278 people were injured in crashes on the
Eastern Shore and 74 lost their lives. To mark the solemn occasion, 74 empty
chairs were arranged in the nature park area with a view of Ocean City across
the bay. In a late change of plans, a 75th chair was added on
Wednesday marking last week’s death of Wicomico County Deputy State’s Attorney
Sam Vincent, who perished in an accident on Route 50 near Salisbury.

“As we look at these empty chairs, we realize 75 people
can no longer enjoy this beautiful view,” said DiPino. “Those souls are no
longer with us. Seventy-five in one year is tragic, but what makes it so much
more tragic is that it is preventable.”

Sgt. Ed Schreier of the Worcester County Sheriff’s
Department put the traffic injury and fatality figures in a national
perspective. Schreier said in the 19 years the U.S. was involved in Vietnam
from 1956 to 1975, 58,000 Americans lost their lives. By comparison, in last
year alone, 37,261 Americans lost their lives in traffic accidents on the
nation’s highways. In Maryland, there were 591 traffic fatalities last year, of
which 191 were directly attributed to speeding.

“Law enforcement across the Eastern Shore, from the Bay
Bridge to the beach, are participating in this program to stop aggressive
driving,” said Schreier. “We’re putting the heat on people who choose to ignore
traffic laws.”

Lieutenant Dave Wilson of the Wicomico County Sheriff’s
Office said the tragic death of Vincent just last week reinforced the need for
an aggressive traffic safety campaign along Route 50 and across the Eastern
Shore during the holiday weekend.

“No officer wants to hear a radio call about a traffic
fatality, but when I learned Sam had succumbed to his injuries, I thought ‘how
could this happen to somebody like this,’” he said. “This tragedy has caused us
to refocus our efforts on traffic safety issues to eliminate crashes and reduce