PIKESVILLE, MD., AUG. 6 -- The Maryland State Police, trying to improve highway safety after several recent fatal traffic accidents, have announced a program to crack down on unsafe truck and bus drivers.

Plainclothes troopers in the Bus and Truck (BAT) Patrol will be on the state's highways to catch bus and truck drivers who speed, tailgate and intimidate other motorists, police spokesman Chuck Jackson said today.

"We are attempting to improve highway safety for all motorists by reducing the number of heavy-footed truckers who are intimidating other motorists and creating unsafe situations on Maryland highways," Jackson said.

Troopers in the BAT Patrol will monitor heavily traveled bus and truck routes, including interstates 95, 695, 495, 83 and 70. Unconventional vehicles will be used to patrol the roadways and BAT members will radio ahead to uniformed troopers, who will stop the vehicles. A limited version of the program was used earlier this year.

Recent accidents that prompted the program's expansion statewide include two fatal crashes involving tractor-trailers. In one of those accidents, two troopers were killed on I-95 north of Baltimore when a tractor-trailer slammed into their patrol car as they sat in the median strip.

Also to improve highway safety, heavy trucks and buses were banned starting this week from the left lanes of I-95 between Baltimore and Washington.