Montgomery County averages about 400 pedestrian collisions a year. Each one is tragic, and this fact has once again been highlighted by a number of collisions so far this year, some of which resulted in pedestrian fatalities. With the time change to Daylight Savings Time last weekend, early morning pedestrians are traveling before the sun comes up. County officials urge pedestrians and drivers to be especially aware of each other, particularly during darkness and in bad weather when visibility is limited.
“The recent spate of pedestrian collisions in Montgomery County is a terrible tragedy,” said Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett. “The County is committed to keeping pedestrians safe, and we have engaged in an aggressive program to reduce collisions through engineering efforts and enhanced enforcement and education that is having excellent results. But, we also need the public’s help to improve safety. We need drivers to obey the law, yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, slow down, pay attention and look out for pedestrians. We need drivers to eliminate distractions, put down their electronic devices and drive less aggressively. We need pedestrians to be vigilant, on guard and undistracted. They should use crosswalks, cross only with walk signals and never assume that drivers see them and will yield to them when they step into the road. We need everyone to be engaged to make sure that crossing the street is not a death defying act.”
In 2007, Leggett introduced an aggressive pedestrian safety initiative that is investing millions of dollars in pedestrian safety improvements – and these improvements are making the County’s streets safer for walkers and cyclists. Over the last five years, pedestrian fatalities have gone from a high of 19 in 2008 to six in 2012; collisions in targeted locations have been reduced by 45 percent; the number of collisions resulting in severe injuries has been reduced; and collisions within a quarter-mile of schools under the “Safe Routes to Schools” program have been cut.
The County is also working in partnership with the Maryland State Highway Administration to address collisions on State roads (roads in the County that are numbered) – the busiest corridors in the County.
Drivers are urged to obey the law and watch out for pedestrians:
• Be aware of pedestrians and be prepared to stop.
• Don’t drive aggressively.
• Don’t drive distractedly – put away electronic devices while driving.
• Slow down and obey the posted speed limits.
• Be patient, especially when young children, seniors or persons with disabilities are present.
Pedestrians are urged to do their part because even doing everything right – crossing with a walk signal and in the crosswalk – is not enough to guarantee safety. In a collision between a pedestrian and a vehicle, the pedestrian always loses. Pedestrians should:
• Remain vigilant when crossing the street, because it’s a “danger zone.”
• Cross the street at signals, marked crosswalks and intersections.
• Don’t step off the curb without looking left, right and then left again.
• Be alert for drivers who aren’t paying attention.
• Don’t count on drivers to see you or react in time.
• Get off the cell phone so you’re not distracted.
• Don’t talk to friends while crossing – stay focused on crossing safely.
• When crossing, pay attention and keep looking around for cars.
• Stay visible after dark and in bad weather.
• Use pedestrian pushbuttons – they give more walk time to pedestrians.
For more information, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/walk.
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