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County Responds To Recent Series Of Pedestrian Collisions

By Aaron Kraut

Thursday - 3/14/2013, 12:22pm  ET

Old Georgetown Road pedestrian collisionMontgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett today said it’s up to drivers to obey the law and pedestrians to keep from getting distracted to prevent the type of pedestrian collisions the county has seen this week.

The issue has again come to the forefront after pedestrian collisions in Bethesda on back-to-back days this week and four collisions countywide.

The collision on Wednesday morning on Old Georgetown Road left a 59-year-old man in critical condition at Suburban Hospital. In the time between the incidents on Tuesday and Wednesday, pedestrian advocate and Action Committee for Transit member Ben Ross responded to a police list of safety tips by saying the county should put more focus on telling drivers to obey the law.

Ross said all three incidents on Tuesday morning, which included one in Montgomery Village and one in Gaithersburg, happened in areas where the pedestrians were legally crossing.

In his press release today, Leggett (D) made it clear the onus was on both pedestrians and drivers to avoid similar accidents:

The recent spate of pedestrian collisions in Montgomery County is a terrible tragedy. 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 December, Leggett and other Montgomery leaders celebrated the five-year anniversary of his Pedestrian Safety Initiative, which the county says has led to a 12 percent decrease in severe pedestrian collisions and a 21 percent decrease in the number of pedestrians incapacitated or killed since the program first received funding in 2009.

In another list of pedestrian safety tips that was part of today’s release, Leggett’s office were sure to urge drivers 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