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County pedestrian problems continue

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Published on: Thursday, April 25, 2013

By Donna Broadway

ROCKVILLE- On April 19, Michelle De Sam, 35, of Bethesda lay unconscious in Cedar Lane. It is unknown if she laid there for seconds, minutes, or even hours before another driver found her but what is known is that De Sam is the 13th victim in a Montgomery County pedestrian accident. So far, five pedestrians and one bicyclist have died in the first four months of 2013 after being involved in pedestrian accidents.

This is an increase from three pedestrian fatalities in the first quarter of 2012. As De Sam continues to recover in an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries, various police jurisdictions in the county have adopted several programs to combat this problem. In 2011, the county painted “do not cross” signs over sidewalks at the most dangerous intersections in the county and in 2012, installed talking pedestrian signals, and spoke to 120 students from 22 area schools about pedestrian safety. The street smart campaign also launched “tired faces” with support from Montgomery County Police Department. The program will run until May 13, 2013.

“We’ve had typically over 10,000 crashes in Montgomery County every year, 400 of them involved pedestrians. And the real tragic news is that we’ve had six pedestrians killed last year, before that we had 11, and the year before that we had 14. We’ve had 30 more people killed who were pedestrians and walking the roadways and that clearly the biggest concern we have and the biggest safety issue that we’re trying to address,” said MCPD Police Chief J. Thomas Manger.

Seneca Valley High School launched a pedestrian safety campaign in honor of 15-year old Christina Morris-Ward, who was killed in October 2012 as she was crossing Germantown Road and Wisteria Drive in Germantown. During the week of April 15-19, Seneca Valley students, parents, teachers, and administrators took to the streets to speak to pedestrians and drivers about common distractions like cell phones and how they can become harmful.

“Unfortunately, I see students act as if it is never going to happen to them and they can dodge between cars and cars aren’t move fast and they are bigger than life. I want kids to know it can happen to anyone and why take that risk?” said Joshua Starr, Superintendent Montgomery County Public Schools.

Following the Seneca Valley education campaign, police will be out on the streets around the high school issuing citations to pedestrians and drivers who fail to obey the law.  Pedestrians will be fined $50 for crossing outside of a crosswalk if both adjacent intersections have traffic signals, or starting to cross at a signalized intersection if the pedestrian signal is red or flashing red.  Drivers will be fined $80 for not yielding to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

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