Distracted pedestrians and drivers, listen up: Montgomery County police want you to put down the cell phone, take the earbuds out and pay attention—or else.
As part of the regional Street Smart campaign, over the next two weeks police will be stepping up the enforcement of pedestrian safety in targeted areas throughout the county, including Silver Spring, Wheaton, Bethesda, Rockville and Germantown.
Pedestrians and drivers may be ticketed for offenses that could include crossing against the light or drivers who don't yield to pedestrians.
"What we're saying is everyone has a responsibility when it comes to pedestrian safety to look out for each other," said Capt. Thomas Didone, head of Montgomery County police’s traffic division. "Although it's not illegal, pedestrians should not be crossing distracted."
Didone said distractions—mainly cell phones and all of their apps—are a rising problem for both drivers and walkers.
“We're seeing many, many more instances where pedestrians are not aware of their surroundings," he told Patch. "That’s just an evolution of the issue with cell phones—they're taking over more and more of our attention."
In 2012, six pedestrians were struck by cars and killed, said Police Chief J. Thomas Manger in a public service video created by students at Seneca Valley High in Germantown. The previous two years saw 11 and 14 people die after being hit by cars, Manger said.
“That clearly is the biggest concern we have and the biggest safety issue we have to address,” Manger said in the video.
In 2013, five pedestrians and one bicyclist were fatally struck by cars.