MONTGOMERY COUNTY TARGETS RULES OF THE ROAD FOR PEDESTRIANS

Last month, Montgomery County police announced an increased effort to ticket jaywalkers at specific locations identified as pedestrian problem areas. Teams of six to eight police officers will be stationed in these areas to enforce the laws of pedestrian safety. The police teams are part of the County's $3.2 million Pedestrian Safety Initiative, which focuses on police enforcement and infrastructure road changes to improve pedestrian safety and public education. The areas identified as having the most pressing safety concerns for pedestrians are: –a mile-long stretch of Piney Branch Road in Silver Spring; –a quarter-mile stretch of Wisconsin Avenue near Metro's Bethesda Station; and –a half-mile stretch of Connecticut Avenue in Aspen Hill near a major shopping center. The rest of the "Top 8" hot spots are: –Georgia Avenue from Spring Street to Sligo Avenue; –Rockville Pike from to Halpine Road to Hubbard Drive; –the "Four Corners" intersection of Colesville Road and University Boulevard; –Reedie Drive from Georgia Avenue to Veirs Mill Road; and –Randolph Road from Colie Drive to Selfridge Road. Many of these danger zones are along state roads, and Montgomery County has been working with the Maryland State Highway Administration on improvements. The Pedestrian Safety Initiative was implemented in 2007. Since the first Pedestrian Road Safety Audit in 2008, pedestrian collisions in the high-risk areas have decreased by more than half. This success is attributable to the prevalence of pedestrian signage, modernization of pedestrian crosswalk signals, improvements in sidewalks and roadway edging, more visible crosswalk markings, traffic calming areas, and enhanced street lighting, as well as enforcement of pedestrian-traffic laws. The audit also revealed that motorists, especially while turning at intersections, are usually at fault for collisions with pedestrians. Another focus of the safety initiative is public education. The Safe Routes to Schools program educates students about pedestrian laws and the placement of crossing guards and police officers around schools to enforce the laws. Advertising on transit shelters and buses, along with public safety announcements in movie theaters (shown before a main attraction), are all aimed at reaching the general public. These promising results in Montgomery County have caught the attention of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, which implements public-education programs for pedestrians and bicyclists in DC, Virginia, and Maryland. MWCG may adjust its program to better target specific hot spots throughout the region, following Montgomery County's example. At Stein, Mitchell & Muse LLP we have successfully represented numerous pedestrians and bicyclists injured by motorists who failed to use proper care while driving. If you have questions about a possible claim, we invite you to contact our office for a free consultation.

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