statistics on highway deaths. Just this week, I received a report from the
Maryland Traffic Safety Commission that 129 persons have been killed
in traffic accidents in this State since last January 1. Another 2, 813 have
been maimed in the same period. This is a shocking condition that
cries out for remedy. This appalling sacrifice of human lives is all the
more horrible when we consider that most of it is unnecessary. It is a
condition that demands not just words but positive action.
During my campaign for Governor last year, I stated repeatedly that I
favored legislation to promote safety on our highways. I naturally was
quite gratified when the newspapers, in reviewing the 1959 session this
week, gave credit to the General Assembly and to my Administration for
the steps we took to reduce the accident carnage.
Said the Washington Post, in a news article:
"Its (that is to say, the Legislature's) most dramatic forward step was
enactment of the Administration's highway safety program which
establishes a point system to weed out habitual traffic offenders and
voluntary chemical tests for suspected drunken drivers. "
The Baltimore Evening Sun, in an editorial, rated the highway safety
program and reform of the lower court system in Baltimore as the "two
chief legislative accomplishments" of the session. The editorial went on
"Mr. Tawes's point system for drivers will, if efficiently administered,
go far to dramatize the danger of carelessness on the highways and to
eliminate careless drivers from the state's roads. "
All the information I have been able to obtain indicates that speed is
the greatest single cause of highway accidents. The question then arises:
How can we make the motorist slow down?
Most of us know from experience that the presence of police patrols
on the highway tends to make the driver check his speed. The
strengthening of the Maryland State Police over the past several years,
in my opinion, has been an important factor in holding down the high-
way death toll. And so, in the budget I submitted to the General
Assembly a week after I took the oath of office as Governor was the
recommendation that 40 troopers, 20 for a full year and 20 for the last
half of the fiscal year, be added to the present force of 511.
I may say here, incidentally, that among the first executive orders I
issued was one having to do with traffic safety. Complaints were made to
me of speeding and reckless driving by the operators of State-owned
vehicles. In a letter that went out to all departments and agencies of the