Baltimore County News
Steve Walsh, Director of Public Works
I am definitely not laughing out loud when a guy passes me at 70 mph and he’s texting behind the wheel. Not funny. We know what happens when you text and drive – you’re six times more likely to cause an accident than if you were drinking and driving. And, they say, one in four crashes involves a cell phone.
According to some statistics, a third of all drivers admit to reading or texting behind the wheel. I’m not the first to point out the dangers of this practice, of course, but as Director of Public Works, whose department is involved with roadway safety, I believe we all have a responsibility to speak out and to protect the innocent.
I understand the temptations of technology. I’ve got kids, so I see the lure of phones, computers, and tablets every day. But we need to remind ourselves of the statistics. In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in distraction-related crashes, according to Federal data.
A driver can safely glance away from the road for only about two seconds; answering a text takes five seconds. And at 55 miles per hour, five seconds is enough time to travel the length of a football field.
It’s common sense to stow your phone when you’re on the road. We should learn safe phone protocols the way we learned to use seat belts a couple of generations ago – buckling up (perhaps unwillingly at first) until safe practices become almost second nature.
Project to widen roadway and add sidewalks
The Department of Public Works plans major improvements to Windsor Mill Road between Woodlawn Drive and Featherbed Lane to address decades-old pedestrian safety and traffic issues. If adjacent property-owners support the proposed changes, approximately a half-mile of Windsor Mill Road will be widened and sidewalks will be installed on both sides of the road in the next several years.
“We are poised for progress to greatly improve traffic and safety on this busy section of Windsor Mill Road, providing safe walkways for students and other people walking in the community,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
The proposed work will include widening the roadway from 22 feet to 36 feet and installing curbs, gutters and other necessary drainage improvements. The project is currently in the design phase, and tangible improvements are not anticipated for several years, pending a consensus of adjacent property owners. At that point, the County will negotiate right-of-way agreements with property owners, relocate utility poles and begin construction. Windsor Mill Road is currently funded only for design, and the project’s progress will hinge on local support. This is a capital project and there is no cost to the property owners.
"I am very excited to see this project move forward. The installation of sidewalks will significantly improve the safety of everyone who travels on Windsor Mill Road, both pedestrians and drivers," said 4th District Councilman Julian Jones.
Public meeting set for September 14
To gauge community interest and support, the Department of Public Works will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, September 14 between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. at the Woodlawn Community Center, 2120 Gwynn Oak Avenue, 21207.
For more information, people may contact Rahee Famili or Angelica Daniel, Highway Design Division, Department of Public Works, at 410 887-3739 or send an email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Natalie Litofsky, Public Safety Office of Media and Communications
From the spooky decorations to the scary costumes, Halloween is a holiday that embraces the fun side of fear. Though zombies and vampires are imaginary dangers, it’s important to watch out for a real safety hazard on Halloween – cars.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Halloween is the second-deadliest day of the year for pedestrians.
Parents and children alike should remember these road safety tips while trick-or-treating:
· Trick-or-treat while there is still daylight. The sun sets around 6 p.m., so keep this in mind when planning your route. Talk with your neighbors in advance to let them know you’ll be trick-or-treating earlier in the evening.
· Stay within a familiar neighborhood. This is the best way to travel where you know there are safe places to cross the street.
· Be a role model when it comes to obeying pedestrian traffic laws. Cross only at a crosswalk or intersection, and only when signal indicates you may cross. Tell your kids to walk on the sidewalk. If there are no walkways, stay as close to the curb as possible.
· Provide children with flashlights or other non-flammable light sources so they can see and be seen while walking. Glow bracelets or reflective tape are also a good way to increase visibility after dark.
· If your child’s costume includes a mask, make sure the eye holes do not obstruct vision. Try a test walk down a hallway in your home to practice looking for traffic while wearing a mask.
· Kids should always be accompanied by an adult while trick-or-treating. As a general rule, it’s best to have one adult for every three to six children.
· If you are driving a car on Halloween, be aware of the increase in pedestrian traffic. Obey the posted speed limit, make sure your headlights are on and keep an eye out for pedestrians along the roadway.
More useful information on pedestrian safety can be found online at Baltimore County’s Walk Safe resource page.