Pedestrians on street

Pedestrian Safety When the Days Get Shorter

The months of October, November and December are the scariest time of the year for pedestrians in Montgomery County because pedestrian collisions have typically spiked during these months by nearly 40 percent. With the end of daylight savings time on November 3, less daylight hours contribute to the problem. According to federal safety officials, 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities happen during the night time hours.

“Montgomery County is committed to pedestrian safety, and over the past few years, we have engaged in an aggressive program to reduce collisions through engineering efforts and enhanced enforcement and education,” said Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett. “But, we cannot do it all alone. We need drivers to slow down, pay attention and look out for pedestrians. We need pedestrians to be vigilant, on guard and undistracted. We need everyone to be engaged to make sure that crossing the street is not a death defying act.”

This week, the regional Street Smart Campaign launched its fall campaign to raise awareness in drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists. Last year in the Washington region, 72 pedestrians and bicyclists died in traffic collisions. Montgomery County averages more than 400 pedestrian collisions a year.

In 2007, Leggett introduced an aggressive pedestrian safety initiative that is investing millions of dollars in safety improvements – and these improvements are making a difference. 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), which are the busiest corridors in the County.

Drivers are urged to help improve pedestrian safety and keep in mind the following:
• Pedestrians can be nearly invisible in the dark and in bad weather.
• Pedestrians may be unpredictable. Be aware and be prepared to stop.
• Slow down and obey the posted speed limits.
• Don’t drive distracted – when in the car, focus only on driving.
• Be patient, especially when young children, seniors or persons with disabilities are present.

Pedestrians are urged to do their part by practicing the following safety tips:
• Remain vigilant when crossing the street.
• 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. Doing everything right – crossing with a walk signal and in the crosswalk – is not enough to guarantee safety.
• Don’t count on drivers to see you or react in time.
• Get off the cell phone and stop texting – don’t walk when distracted.
• Stay visible after dark and in bad weather.

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