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Public Safety Chiefs Urge Public to “Be Safer this Holiday Season”

At the Montgomery County Public Safety Headquarters today, Police Chief Tom Manger and Fire Chief Scott Goldstein urged community members to “Be Safer this Holiday Season,” and to “Be Seen, Be Alert, and Be Responsible.” Already this year in Montgomery County, there have been 33 fatal traffic collisions in which 34 people lost their lives.

“The fourth quarter of the year, which includes the holiday season, is one of the most dangerous times of the year for drivers and pedestrians,” said Manger. “Traffic collisions increase with, on average, 135 pedestrians involved in those collisions. This traditionally has been the highest quarter of the year for traffic crashes and we need to do everything we can to prevent these tragedies.”

“Any pedestrian fatality or injury is one too many,” said Chief 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.”

Joining the Chiefs to support a safer holiday season were: the chair of the County’s Pedestrian, Bicycle and Traffic Safety Advisory Committee Darrel Drobnich, the director of the MCPD Traffic Division Captain Tom Didone and the chair of the County’s Commission on People with Disabilities Seth Morgan, M.D.

“A lot of times when I stop people they ask me, why we don’t give warnings,” said Captain Tom Didione, “because warnings don’t work. This is the warning. We are going to be out in force. We are very serious about it. We are doing it because we want to get people home safe. We hope that our collective efforts are successful and our Collision Reconstruction Unit doesn’t get a call out for the rest of the year and our numbers stay at 33 fatal collisions.”

“Do yourself and your family a favor this holiday season and think about your responsibilities on roads, crosswalks and bike paths,” said Drobnich. "Don’t trust the other guy to do the right thing; be ready to yield the right-of-way. Let’s also give our County’s police and emergency personnel a break this holiday season by all doing our part to be safer."

Didone said Montgomery County Police would be conducting over 40 traffic operations in the month of December which will target both drivers that don’t yield to pedestrians. Drivers who fail to stop for police officers who will be walking in crosswalks during “Crosswalk Stings” while also targeting pedestrians who are jay-walking.

County officials, members of law enforcement and traffic safety activists encourage community members to reduce traffic fatalities with the following strategies:

Be Seen: Think about how to be more visible when walking during morning and evening periods of darkness. Consider purchasing a light-colored winter coat or wearing a white scarf and gloves. Look for reflective and/or flashing accessories in bicycle supply shops that can be easily worn with a coat. Pedestrians should never assume that a driver can see them, just because they can see the vehicle.

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 when crossing streets, don’t wear ear buds and don’t be looking 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.