Harford had 23 highway deaths in 2011

There were 23 fatalities on Harford County highways in 2011, a slight decrease from the previous year, but still too many, according to local police.

They're hoping a new countywide task force will prevent at least some fatal accidents.

"None of us want to experience the loss of a loved one or cause the loss of a loved one because of one careless moment in a motor vehicle that could have been avoided," Lt. Charles Moore, commander of the Maryland State Police Bel Air Barrack, said Monday.

Among the 23 who were killed last year, six were riding motorcycles and a seventh was driving a four-wheeler. That's half the number killed on motorcycles compared to 2010.

Four of the 2011 deaths were pedestrians, including a man who got out of his car on I-95 and was struck and killed crossing traffic lanes. A teenage girl was killed crossing a northern Harford highway that is not typically busy during the time she was struck.

The third pedestrian who was killed was walking along Rockspring Road in Bel Air early in the morning, and police who investigated say he appeared to be under the influence of alcohol.

Police also said during initial investigations that alcohol may have also been a factor in one of last year's fatal collisions, making it one motorist and one pedestrian killed last year in accidents possibly caused by alcohol.

With five deaths, July was by far the deadliest month, followed by April with four. June was the only month no one died in a car accident.

Geographically, 10 of the fatalities were on roads in northern Harford County, with three deaths along Route 136, two along Route 1 (Conowingo Road), two along Route 165 and one each along Route 23, Grier Nursery Road and Jarrettsville Road.

Among fatalities in the southern half of the county, there were one each on the Bel Air Bypass, Route 40, Route 7, Route 1 (Belair Road), Route 24, Route 22 between Bel Air and Churchville and I-95. There were two deaths on Rockspring Road, one north of the bypass and one south.

There were no accidents in which there were multiple deaths in 2011.

Local law enforcement is trying to combat the numerous accidents in Harford County through the new Traffic Task Force. Created in April, it incorporates Maryland State Police, the Harford County Sheriff's Office and Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace police departments.

The goal of the program, according to Harford County Sheriff Jesse Bane, is to get all local law enforcement to "pool resources" and focus on the areas with traffic problems.

Some of these traffic problems are caused by distracted drivers and angry drivers, he said, as well as a lack of infrastructure to support the increasing traffic flow.

"I think one of the difficulties is that our infrastructure doesn't support the volume of traffic we have on our roadways, particularly during rush hour," he said.

In addition to the task force, Bane said the sheriff's office is also getting a software program for DDACS, or Data Driven Analysis of Crime and traffic Safety, which will help analyze traffic problems and patterns.

DDACS will allow the sheriff's office to find areas with both traffic and crime problems, so they can focus on those neighborhoods.

"That way you're not just dealing with the traffic," he said, "you're dealing with the crime, too."

Maryland State Police will also be taking steps to prevent more accidents in 2012 in addition to participating in the traffic force. Moore said he hopes to put a spreadsheet he created in use in the coming weeks to help the Bel Air Barrack further analyze traffic.

Now, Maryland State Police uses data from State Highway Administration to follow traffic patterns and problems, but Moore has developed a spreadsheet to keep track of where the accidents are happening, at what times and what the causes are.