Local Officials Remind Residents to be Safe this Holiday Season (PHOTOS & VIDEO)
UPDATED Montgomery County officials are reminding residents to stay safe this holiday season. In fact, police say this is one of the most dangerous times of the year for pedestrians and drivers. County officials recently held a news conference to provide safety tips for the holiday season. Their message: be alert, be seen and be responsible. MyMCMedia’s Sonya Burke has more in this report, below:
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett was joined by Police Chief Tom Manger, Fire Chief Scott Goldstein, Police Captain Tom Didone and other officials at the stay safe news conference at the Clarksburg Premium Outlets Center on Nov. 28th.
You can watch the entire news conference, below:
“Knowing there will be many people out and about during the holiday season, please be extra careful,” said Leggett. “When you are driving, stay focused and watch for pedestrians. When you are walking, try to wear something light-colored or bright and do not assume that drivers can see you. If you are going to be drinking alcoholic beverages, be sure to have a designated driver or call a taxi. By using common sense, we can stay safe this holiday season.”
“The fourth quarter of the year rolling over into the beginning of January of the next year, which includes the holiday season, is one of the most dangerous times of the year for drivers and pedestrians,” said Manger. This traditionally has been the highest quarter of the year for traffic crashes. Our officers will be conducting enforcements, but we need everyone to do everything they can to prevent these tragedies.”
At the news conference, Manger shared his top ten dos and don’ts for the holiday season.
“Any pedestrian fatality or injury is one too many,” said Goldstein. “Our first responders see firsthand the correlation between distractions and collisions. Drivers, look out for pedestrians especially in hard-to-see conditions such as nighttime or inclement weather. Pedestrians, follow the rules of the road and pay attention to traffic. Whether on foot or behind the wheel, we need to work together, look out for each other and curb the distractions.”
Firefighters and police officers are also helping distribute yellow reusable bags with the message, “look out for each other.”
In 2015, there were 38 fatal traffic collisions that resulted in 39 deaths, according to county officials. Thirteen of the fatalities were pedestrians. Last year there were 4,123 recorded injury collisions and 473 of those involved pedestrians. As of November 25, 2016, there have been 23 fatal traffic collisions which caused 28 deaths, seven of those fatalities were pedestrians. As of November 21, there have been 3,848 injury collisions, 392 of them involved pedestrians.
Be Seen: Pedestrians need to remember that just because they can see a car, doesn’t mean that the driver can see them. Think about how to be more visible when walking during morning and evening periods of darkness. When you are purchasing a winter coat, consider purchasing a light-colored one, or select a white scarf and gloves. Look for reflective and/or flashing accessories in bicycle supply shops that can be easily worn with a coat.
Be Alert: Always give full attention when walking or driving. Maryland is a Hands-Free state, no texting or even holding a cell phone while you are driving. Distracted driving continues to be a leading cause of collisions. When walking by a roadway or crossing streets, don’t wear ear buds and don’t look down at a cell phone. Holiday shoppers are particularly encouraged to be aware of one another in parking lots. Over the past four years, approximately 25 percent of the County’s pedestrian collisions have occurred in parking lots. Last year, there were 119 pedestrian-related collisions recorded in parking areas, a 16.7 percent increase from the 102 collisions recorded in 2014.
Be Responsible: Don’t Drink and Drive and don’t host a party for guests under the age of 21 that includes alcohol. During the holidays, County law enforcement agencies work together to deploy a Holiday Alcohol Task Force to reduce the incidents of drunk and drugged driving. Task force members will also be responding to reports of underage drinking parties. Adults and parents are asked to support zero tolerance of underage drinking. This year, the task force began on November 16 and its work will continue through January 7, 2017.
- Don’t drive distractedly – it’s illegal to hold a phone or text while driving.
- Don’t assume pedestrians see you.
- Be especially cautious backing out of a space.
- Slow down! Parking lots are not speedways.
- Stop talking on the phone and texting while walking. Take out the ear buds.
- Don’t assume drivers see you.
- Don’t walk behind a vehicle that is backing out.
- Be aware and constantly look out for moving vehicles.
Respect the Space reminders:
Drivers are reminded that it is illegal to park a vehicle without disability tags or license in a designated disability parking space. The fine for Montgomery County is $250. The individual who was issued a placard or plate must be transported in the vehicle for the vehicle to legally park in a designated disability parking space. Parking in a striped area/access aisle adjacent to and between disability spaces is also against the law. Those striped areas allow room for wheelchair lifts to load and unload passengers. Disability parking spaces are located in all parking lots and garages within parking districts for the exclusive use of those with disability tags or placards.
If you see a vehicle without a disability tag or license plate parked in a designated disability parking space, call the police department’s non-emergency number at 301.279.8000.