Highway patrolmen in 16 Eastern states including Maryland and Virginia have agreed to unite for the first time in a new crack-down on summer holiday highway speeders.

Termed "Operation Care," the new crackdown, announced yesterday, will concentrate efforts along I-95, a main traffic artery through the 16 states.

Maryland State Police Superintendent Thomas S. Smith said he hoped the cencentrated effort would increase compliance with speed limits on other highways.

Officials from the U.S. Transportation Department, the Federal Energy Department and state transportation and energy departments said repeated studies have proven that the 55 mph limit saves 9,000 lives a year and 100,000 gallons of gas a day at current enforcement levels.

"The motoring public simply does not comprehend that the public highway is the most dangerous place in the world," Smith said.

Representatives of highway patrols in the 16 states were at Maryland State Police headquarters at Pikesville yesterday to begin taping public service announcements for radio and television, which will be broadcast in all the states.

A grant for $6,200 for police travel expenses was given to Maryland by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The cost of the videotapes is being donated by WMAR-TV here.

Bill Clark, state police spokesman said the new project is costing the state only $150 for construction of 23-foot-long plywood map of the East Coast as a backdrop for the television spots.

In the television announcements, each patrolman will say the name of his state while a background voice says that the 55 mph speed limit helps save lives and energy and "one more thing, too - meeting one of these police officers this way" - At that point a police siren is heard.

Frank Altobelli, a Transportation Department, regional administrator, said a survey indicated that 52 percent of Maryland drivers now exceed the 55 mph speed limit.