Sunday, May 12, 2013

Montgomery Co police conduct crosswalk sting operation

Photo: Montgomery Co Police
Seventy two motorists received tickets for failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks in Montgomery County. Plain clothes police, which is actually a misnomer in this case because they were wearing brightly colored shirts, conducted a crosswalk sting operation last week.
During this pedestrian enforcement, plain clothes officers dressed in bright clothing cross the street in marked crosswalks. Officers stop vehicles that do not yield to the plain clothes officers or other pedestrians in the crosswalk, and drivers are issued citations. General traffic law is also enforced. Traffic Division officers will continue this type of pedestrian enforcement throughout the month of May.
When I was on the Fairfax Co Non-motorized Transportation Committee (now the Trails and Sidewalks Committee) county police were asked to conduct a similar sting operation and they reacted by saying it was too dangerous. I'm not sure if they got the irony of their response.

Anyone how rides on a trail that crosses a road with a crosswalk has encountered motorists who refuse to yield. In my experience, most motorists will yield when I'm IN the crosswalk. Some yield when I approach the crosswalk. According to Virginia law, motorists are required to YIELD to pedestrians and bicyclists in a crosswalk. I believe one difference between Maryland and Virginia is that motorists in Maryland are required to STOP for pedestrians in a crosswalk. The weaker wording of the VA law means the law can be interpreted more loosely.

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What? Police officers actually authorized by the authorities over them to enforce the law on behalf of pedestrians and other (us) crosswalk users. What a radical idea - do you think it might catch on in Fairfax County?

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