COLLEGE PARK, MD – Spring is here, and Washington-area residents are ready for outdoor activities. Transportation officials from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia want to make sure that as drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists take to the streets, they also take care and watch out for each other. To encourage safety, officials gathered today in College Park, Maryland to launch the spring Street Smart public awareness and enforcement campaign.
“This winter’s brutal weather forced residents to spend most of their time inside, and now that it’s warming up, more people will be out walking and biking,” said Rushern L. Baker III, County Executive, Prince George’s County, Maryland. “With more of us back out on the roads, now is the time to make an extra effort to be aware of one another. We’ll be stepping up enforcement throughout the region to make sure everyone gets that message.”
As part of the campaign, which runs from March 23 to April 19, regional law enforcement will be on the lookout for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists who break traffic safety laws. Violators on foot, bicycle, and behind the wheel will be ticketed and face fines up to $500, and drivers may also get points on their driver record.
Street Smart officials launched the spring initiative at College Park City Hall. Several pedestrian fatalities in College Park last year led officials to reduce the speed limit for MD Route 1 from 30 mph to 25 mph and to add improvements such as median fencing and signals to help pedestrians safely cross the roadway. Officials shared the message of awareness and accountability at today’s gathering.
“We all have a responsibility to pay attention and follow traffic laws to make sure everyone travels safely,” said John Saunders, Director of Highway Safety, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. “It takes only a moment of distraction or impatience for the unthinkable to happen.” In 2014, 75 pedestrians and bicyclists lost their lives in traffic crashes in the Washington area.
Street Smart is an annual public awareness campaign in the Washington, D.C., suburban Maryland, and Northern Virginia area that aims to prevent pedestrian and bicyclist deaths and injuries. The campaign offers safety tips for all travelers (see below) and pairs media with enforcement to encourage all drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians to be alert and follow traffic safety laws when they’re en route throughout the region.
Find information on the Street Smart public education program at BeStreetSmart.net