Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Police Chief J. Thomas Manger today launched two education campaigns to improve public safety – both focused on encouraging citizens to look out for each other during the busy holiday shopping season with its increases in both pedestrian and vehicular traffic on roads and in parking lots. Joining them was Montgomery County Fire Chief Richard Bowers.
The seasonal change back to standard time is typically associated with a rise in pedestrian collisions. To try to reduce collisions and raise awareness, a new Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) pedestrian safety campaign features bus posters showing the eyes of two County students with the slogan, “Hey You, I’m Looking at You.” The campaign focuses attention on two of the most important factors in reducing crashes – visibility of pedestrians and vigilance by drivers.
“This time of year, with greater hours of darkness, is traditionally when we see a spike in pedestrian collisions -- and our ‘Eyes’ campaign is designed to reverse that trend,” said Leggett. “We’re reminding pedestrians to make sure drivers can see them by wearing reflective items, flashing lights and light colored clothing. Drivers are reminded to look for pedestrians and give them a brake.”
Manger also announced the annual “Shop with a Cop” campaign. During the height of the shopping season, police officers in all six of Montgomery County police districts will patrol retail areas to provide extra security and remind shoppers to drive and walk safe -- especially in parking lots.
“During the busy holiday shopping season, the potential for traffic collisions and robberies increases,” said Manger. “I am very pleased that we can once again deploy additional officers to provide safety awareness and extra security. Working together we can make this not only a happy holiday season, but also a safe one.”
“Shop With a Cop” begins the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 23, and runs through December 23. Officers will distribute about 5,000 reusable shopping bags, which were funded by MCDOT, featuring the “Eyes” campaign photos to remind drivers and pedestrians to watch out for one another. The bags were paid for by MCDOT.
Some of the busiest shopping areas in the County were selected for the “ShopWith a Cop” initiative, including:
• Congressional Shopping Center, Wintergreen Shopping Center, Federal Plaza and Fallsgrove Village Center, Rockville
• Cabin John Mall, Potomac
• Shops in the Central Business Districts of Bethesda and Friendship Heights
• City Place Mall, Downtown Silver Spring
• White Oak Shopping Center, White Oak
• Briggs Chaney Shopping Center, Briggs Chaney
• Aspen Hill Shopping Center, Aspen Hill
• Westfield Wheaton, and the shops at Randolph Road and Veirs Mill Road, Wheaton
• Milestone Shopping Center, Germantown
• Lake Forest Mall, Transit Center at Lake Forest Mall, the Off Price Center, Montgomery Village Shopping Center and Gaithersburg Square Shopping Center, Gaithersburg
The “Eyes” campaign was developed this past spring by a group of Montgomery Blair High School students. A contest was conducted among students to have their eyes featured in the campaign materials, and two winners were selected: Hillary Yeboah, now a senior, and John Parsley, a student who graduated last year. Their eyes remind pedestrians to establish eye contact with drivers, be visible to drivers and look both ways before crossing the street. The eyes prompt drivers to look out for pedestrians. Ride On buses featuring the ads are already on County streets, carrying the message to residents.
Last week, regional officials launched the fall Street Smart campaign to reinforce the message about the link between longer hours of darkness and increased pedestrian collisions throughout the Washington, D.C. area.
County officials offer the following safety tips that are appropriate not only during the holidays but all year round:
• Look twice for people in crosswalks and yield to pedestrians and bicyclists.
• Be careful when passing stopped vehicles.
• When turning, yield to pedestrians and cyclists at intersections.
• Allow three feet of clearance when passing bicyclists.
• Look for cyclists and cars before opening the vehicle door.
• Slow down and obey the speed limit.
• Do not use a cell phone while driving. Use of handheld cell phones while driving is illegal in Maryland.
• Cross the street at the corner and use marked crosswalks when they’re available.
• Wait for the “Walk” signal to cross the street.
• Before crossing look left, right, and left again.
• Be seen! – especially after dark or in bad weather. Wear reflective items or flashing lights.
• Whenever possible, make eye contact with a driver before crossing the street.
• Don’t text while crossing the street.
• Obey all traffic signs and traffic lights.
• Ride in the direction of traffic, at least a car door width away from parked cars.
• Use hand signals.
• Always wear a helmet.
• Use lights when riding in the dark.
• Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
• Park in well-lit parking lots and park as close as possible to the mall or store.
• Lock car doors and keep packages hidden in the trunk or under vehicle seats.
• Do not carry large amounts of cash: Try to pay with checks or credit cards when possible.
• Don’t carry a large number of packages. Try to periodically store packages in the trunk of your vehicle, and then continue shopping.
• Carry closed purses as close to the body as possible.
• Carry a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.
• Walk with confidence and know where you are going.
• Trust your instincts; if something or someone makes you uneasy, avoid the person and go toward an open store, restaurant or lighted house.
• Have car or house keys in hand before reaching the door.
• If someone does try to rob you, don’t resist. Give up your property – do not endanger your life. Report the crime to police as soon as possible, and try to describe the attacker accurately. Your rapid reporting of the incident may prevent others from becoming victims.
Montgomery County has launched a revamped pedestrian safety website where more information is available. Go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov/walk.
# # #