County Officials Offer Tips to Help Residents Stay Safe During Holidays
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett joined Police Chief Tom Manger, Fire Chief Scott Goldstein and other officials at the Clarksburg Premium Outlets to provide information to help community members Stay Safe this Holiday Season. Leggett urged residents to “Be Seen, Be Alert and Be Responsible.” The County Executive suggested tips for driver and pedestrian safety, safety in parking lots, impaired driving prevention and respecting disability parking spaces.
“We are asking people to do some things that are very simple and common sense; be seen, be alert, and be responsible,” said Leggett surrounded by police and firefighters near the parking lot at Clarksburg Premium Outlets.
“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 Chief 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.”
“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.”
Also supporting a safe holiday season were: Director of the County’s Department of Environmental Protection Lisa Feldt and Commissioner with the County’s Commission on People with Disabilities Trish Gallalee.
Police officers and members of MCFRS Station 35 in Clarksburg helped distribute brightly colored shopping bags at Clarksburg Premium Outlets reminding consumers to be safe during the holiday shopping season. The County kicked off the annual Shop with a Cop or Firefighter Campaign. Both police and fire rescue personnel work together on the “Shop with a Cop or Firefighter” campaign. Officers and firefighters go to busy shopping center parking lots across the County to provide extra safety awareness. They’ll be handing out environmentally-friendly reusable shopping bags.
In 2015, there were 38 fatal traffic collisions that resulted in 39 deaths. 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, 7 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 will continue through January 7, 2017.
The Department of Environmental Protection encourages residents to consider the safety of environment by using reusable bags when shopping throughout the year. Plastic bags are one of the top four litter items found in County streams. Taking reusable bags when shopping is a way for residents to help reduce the amount of waste generated and keep our local waterways cleaner.
The Heads Up in Parking Lots safety message:
• 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. Even when vacant, they are never, even for a matter of minutes, for use by anyone else.
• If you see a vehicle without a disability tag or license plate parked in a designated disability parking space, call the police non-emergency number, 301-279-8000.
The Montgomery County Police Alcohol Holiday Task Force, comprised of officers from the Alcohol Initiatives Section and patrol officers from the six police districts, as well as officers from the Gaithersburg City Police Department, the Maryland National Capital Park Police Department (Montgomery County Division), Maryland State Police, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, and the Takoma Park Police Department, will be devoting their full time and attention to detecting alcohol-related offenses this holiday season. The task force began on November 16 and will continue through January 7, 2017.
The task force will focus on enforcement of offenses to include:
Enforcement of traffic laws in areas known for a high number of alcohol-related tragedies with the goal of getting drunk or drug-impaired drivers off the road.
Compliance checks of businesses who hold alcohol licenses by using underage volunteers to attempt to purchase alcohol at establishments (ensuring that shopkeepers are careful not to sell alcohol to minors).
Responding to calls for underage drinking parties. All attendees are screened for alcohol usage, and those who are under age 21 are issued citations. Every person is then ensured a safe ride home. Parents of juveniles are notified to come and get them. Any parent or other adult who hosts can be held liable and can be issued a citation. An adult can be held criminally liable if he/she provides alcohol to an individual under 21 years and he/she knew or reasonably should have known the individual would operate a motor vehicle and did operate the vehicle under the influence of alcohol and caused serious injury or death (Alex and Calvin’s Law).
Sobriety checkpoints: The location of the checkpoints is based on collision and traffic data focusing on areas that drivers are most at risk for encountering impaired drivers.
Responding to calls for service regarding intoxicated persons.
Weather-permitting there will be approximately 40 pedestrian enforcement details during the month of December.
Regular distracted driving and seat belt compliance enforcement continues during the holidays.
Top: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett addresses the media as the County kicked off its holiday safety campaign at the Clarksburg Premium Outlets on Monday morning, Nov. 28.
Next: Police and members of the MCFRS handed out brightly colored bags to shoppers to remind them to remain safe while shopping this season.
Next: Police Chief Thomas Manger offered residents tips to remain safe while driving, walking, and shopping during the holiday season.
Next: Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service Chief Scott Goldstein reminded residents to wear high visibility, brightly colored clothing while walking in parking lots and crossing streets.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.