Friday, April 18, 2014

Warmer Weather Prompts Increased Outdoor Activity and Safety Enforcement

"Street Smart" Campaign Urges Drivers, Bicyclists and Pedestrians to Exercise Caution

Safety Zones will feature street teams
highlighting key campaign messages
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VA — After a long, cold winter, Washington-area residents are
ready to get outside and enjoy spring weather. With more people walking and biking, transportation officials from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia are urging drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists, to take extra care and watch for each other when traveling around the region. To make sure they do, law enforcement agencies will be on the lookout for anyone not following traffic safety laws and will ticket and fine violators – whether on foot, a bike, or behind the wheel.
These increased efforts are all part of the spring Street Smart public awareness and enforcement campaign. From April 14 through May 11, officers in the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland, and Northern Virginia will be stepping up enforcement, watching for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists who violate traffic safety laws. Drivers who fail to yield for people in crosswalks, for example, and pedestrians who jaywalk will face tickets and fines ranging from $40 to $500. Additionally, law-breaking drivers are subject to getting points on their driver records.
Gas Station Pump Toppers Remind
Motorists to Watch for Pedestrians
"This has been a particularly harsh winter, so we expect that, as spring unfolds, more people will be out walking and biking. With so many of us sharing the roads, it is critical that we make safety a top priority," said Prince William County Supervisor Frank Principi, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. "It's the duty of all drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to work together, pay attention and follow traffic laws to make sure everyone arrives at their destinations safely."
Street Smart officials launched the spring initiative Thursday morning, April 17, at the Woodbridge, VA intersection where Sally Ann Okuly was killed last November. Okuly, a devoted wife and mother of two, was crossing with the light at the southeast corner of Opitz Boulevard at Montgomery Avenue when she was struck and killed by a car in the crosswalk. That morning was the first time she had taken a walk outside her home since surviving a motorcycle accident six months earlier.
In the wake of Okuly’s death, her friends, family and community leaders have successfully Street Smart officials hope to see similar improvements made at other treacherous intersections in the Washington region.
Bus Ads - Key Component of the
StreetSmart Campaign
advocated for engineering improvements to the intersection, including plans for crosswalk striping and the recent implementation of a Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) signal – a timing technique that allows pedestrians a few seconds headstart to begin crossing the street before cars get a green light. 
Street Smart aims to prevent pedestrian and bicyclist deaths like Okuly’s – let alone the countless injuries that occur each year –by urging people to pay more attention when they’re on the road and offering practical, easy-to-follow safety tips (see below). Drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians need to follow traffic laws, be aware of their surroundings, and avoid distractions such as cell phones. Street Smart reminds drivers to be alert and yield to anyone walking or biking at intersections, encourages those on foot to use crosswalks and wait for the walk signal, and urges people on bicycles to ride in the direction of traffic and stop at red lights.
While pedestrian fatalities in the DC metro area decreased from 2012 to 2013, bicyclist fatalities more than doubled, from three in 2012 to seven in 2013. In 2013, preliminary data indicate that 73 pedestrians and bicyclists were killed in crashes in the Washington metropolitan region. These deaths accounted for 27 percent of all traffic fatalities in the area.
Information on the Street Smart public education program may be found at www.bestreetsmart.net.
 

Press Articles about the Spring 2014 StreetSmart Launch:

NBC
WUSA9 (article 1)
WUSA9 (article 2)
Univision (article 1)
Univision (article 2)
CBS
Prince William Daily Monitor
InsideNOVA
Associated Press

About the Street Smart Campaign & the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB)
Sponsored by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) and the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB), the Street Smart public awareness and enforcement campaign is in its twelfth year. Its goal is to reduce pedestrian and cyclist injuries and deaths in the Washington metropolitan area. For more information about Street Smart, please visit www.bestreetsmart.net and twitter.com/COGStreetSmart. The TPB is the regional transportation planning organization for the Washington region. It includes local governments, state transportation agencies, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and members of the Maryland and Virginia General Assemblies.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pedestrian Crosswalk Stings are Back


A sting operation at an often disregarded Wisconsin Avenue crosswalk last week led to 24 citations for drivers who didn’t stop for an undercover cop posing as a pedestrian.
Next week, Montgomery County will launch a spring Street Smart campaign managed by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Jeff Dunckel, Montgomery County’s pedestrian safety coordinator, said part of that initiative will include a new wave of the undercover police crosswalk stings.
The sting last week was set up for two hours at the notorious intersection of Stanford Street and Wisconsin Avenue. Drivers there must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk.
But with no traffic signal on the six-lane road, pedestrians say that rarely happens.
Last June, police nabbed 22 drivers for failing to stop with a pedestrian in the crosswalk. Last April, as county officials and police began an aggressive spring pedestrian safety initiative, a motorist mowed down one of the pedestrian signs at the crosswalk.
Esther Bowring, a county government spokesperson, said police do regular enforcement of pedestrian safety laws. The effort that will begin next week is a more concentrated effort to raise awareness with more and more pedestrians taking advantage of warmer weather.
The decoy pedestrian police stings started last year.  Officials began putting the enforcement focus on drivers who were violating the law, not just pedestrians jaywalking or crossing without the walk signal.
Source: Bethesda Now, April 11, 2014
To see a video about crosswalk stings, click here.
To hear an audio clip on the stings, click here.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Nationally, Accident Rates Improving for Older Drivers

Nationally, accident rates improving for older drivers
 
Safety researchers expressed concern a decade ago that traffic accidents would increase as the nation's aging population swelled the number of older drivers on the road. Now, they say they've been proved wrong. Today's drivers aged 70 and older are less likely to be involved in crashes than previous generations and are less likely to be killed or seriously injured if they do crash, according to a study recently released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That's because vehicles are getting safer and seniors are generally getting healthier. The marked shift began taking hold in the mid-1990s and indicates that growing ranks of aging drivers as baby boomers head into their retirement years aren't making U.S. roads deadlier. Traffic fatalities overall in the U.S. have declined to levels not seen since the late 1940s, and accident rates have come down for other drivers as well.

(Source: Boston.com (Boston Globe newspaper), March, 2014, as reported in the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety eNewsletter, March 14, 2014.)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Bicycle Safety Class April 12 Sponsored by Bethesda TMD

Class will help bicyclists become more comfortable biking on city streets
Class will help bicyclists become more comfortable biking on city streets

Bethesda Transportation Solutions, which operates the Bethesda Transportation Management District, and the Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA) are holding a bicycle safety class on confident city cyclingon Saturday, April 12, 11 am-2 pm. It will be at Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad, 5020 Battery Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814. 

Registration is free to the first ten students to arrive within 15 minutes prior to class and to Capital Bikeshare members. The fee is $5 to WABA members and $10 to all others. Registration is online at WABA's website

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dale Drive Sidewalk Completed

The Division of Transportation Engineering has recently completed construction of 1900 feet of new sidewalk along the north side of Dale Drive, from Mansfield Road to Hartford Avenue in Silver Spring. This project was part of the Transportation Improvements for New Schools program, which funds improvements to serve County public schools. The program has previously constructed sections of other sidewalk along Dale Drive from Wayne Avenue to Piney Branch Road. This latest sidewalk provides connectivity to the Sligo Creek Elementary School, the Silver Spring International Middle School, as well as to downtown Silver Spring, Sligo Creek Park, and bus stops.

The project involved construction of significant retaining walls more than 300 feet long and ranging in height from three to 11 feet. Also part of the project was a storm drainage system and gas, sewer, and water utility relocations.

The contractor was Banneker Ventures LLC. Significant construction work was undertaken by subcontractorM. Luis Construction Company, a local woman-owned business recently honored by the President when he visited their asphalt manufacturing plant in Rockville.

For more information, contact Shirley Reeves-Collette, Project Manager, at 240.773.3412 or by email. For budget details on the project, see the Office of Management and Budget website. For information on transportation construction projects, visit the Division of Transportation Engineering's website.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

County Plans Traffic Calming for Plyers Mill Road


On Friday, March 21, 2014, Montgomery County Department of Transportation attended a community meeting organized by members of the Kensington Heights Civic Association, McKenney Hills - Carroll Knolls Civic Association, and Plyers Mill Road residents.  At the meeting, Montgomery County officials Jeff Dunckel, Seifu Kerse, and Rick Earp discussed with residents plans for improving pedestrian safety by constructing traffic calming features, sidewalks, and enhanced pedestrian crossings on Plyers Mill Road between Drumm Avenue and Georgia Avenue.  Experience with traffic calming projects at other locations in Montgomery County has demonstrated that traffic is slowed to posted speed limits with a resulting decline in pedestrian collisions.  With the decline of speeding and the addition of new improved pedestrian facilities, communities report - - and pedestrian crash data confirms - -  traffic calming projects result in much safer and more walkable communities.  To review plans for Plyers Mill Road, please click on the links below.


You may also submit comments, issues, or concerns to the project manager, Seifu Kerse at seifu.kerse@montgomerycountymd.gov.  All comments must be received by April 30.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Texting and Walking Results in More Injuries Per Mile Than Texting and Driving

A new study found that texting while walking causes more injuries per mile than texting while driving. Many studies have focused on the dangerous consequences of texting while driving. However, researchers found that texting and walking can be far more dangerous as they cause more injuries per mile. The consequences of texting include bumping into walls, falling down stairs, tripping over clutter or stepping into traffic, according to a press statement. Researchers pointed out that even though injuries from texting and driving are more severe, physical harm resulting from texting and walking occurs more frequently. People who text and walk face three types of distractions. The first one is manual where they're doing something else, the second one is visual where they're seeing something else and the third one is cognitive where their mind is somewhere else.

To see the full article, click here.

(Source for national data: Headline and Global News, March 4, 2014, as reported in the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety eNewsletter, March 14, 2014.)