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Safety Advocates Launch Fall Campaign

bcc fence.jpg
Pedestrian safety advocates pointed out the fence in front of B-CC High School that funnels students toward safer East-West Highway crossings. (Thomson)

Ike Leggett has to stop going to these pedestrian safety events. At the launch this morning of the Washington region's fall Street Smart safety campaign, the Montgomery County executive noted that while on his way to one of the county's own safety events in September, he came upon the scene of a pedestrian accident.

Today, as people were setting up equipment for a press conference in front of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, a car stopped for a pedestrian entering a crosswalk, then another vehicle ran into the car that had just done the right thing by stopping.

These all too frequent occurances underscored the message that the safety advocates wanted to deliver today: We live in an increasingly congested region with way too many opportunities for us to hurt each other. So it's up to all of us -- the governments, police, drivers and pedestrians -- to reduce the likelihood of these bad encounters.

Maryland Del. Bill Bronrott of Bethesda was among those who noted that today's safety reminder was well timed, as we are "heading into the darker days of fall and winter" on streets that are so heavily traveled, we've "made the simple act of crossing the street into a death defying act."

Pedestrian safety advocates did offer hope that education, engineering and enforcement -- if properly coordinated -- could reduce the danger. They pointed out we were standing in front of a large high school where a safety program that involved construction of the fence seen in the photo above had helped separate students from traffic.

Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger pledged that his officers would be out enforcing the traffic laws, with drivers and pedestrians alike. Chris Wells, the pedestrian safety manager for Fairfax County said that sustained police enforcement has helped reduce pedestrian crashes on Route 1. He said the county plans to spend $48 million on pedestrian safety improvements in the next few years.

George Branyan, the District's pedestrian safety coordinator who has been working on a safety master plan for the city, said that "walking is fundamental to the life and health of the District."

Leggett gave us the bottom line: "Virtually every pedestrian death and injury can be prevented if both sides of the crash equation -- drivers and pedestrians -- do a better job of looking out for each other."

By Robert Thomson  |  November 13, 2008; 11:55 AM ET
Categories:  Safety  
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