Baltimore County Now
Lt. Steve Troutman, Baltimore County Police Crash Team Leader
Battalion Chief Jennifer Utz, Baltimore County Fire Department
Now that summer is here, people are getting out and about more. Sadly, the beautiful June weather means more people will be seriously hurt - or killed - just crossing the street.
It’s not usually who you think, or for the reasons you think…
There are some common misconceptions when it comes to pedestrian crashes. Most people tend to assume that the crash is caused by the person behind the wheel. That is normally NOT the case. Plus, it’s more often an adult rather than a child who is struck.
In fact, 80% of these incidents are actually caused by the pedestrian. Many of these fatal crashes are results of:
· Failure to walk in crosswalks or obey crosswalk signals
· Distracted walking
· Failure to look both ways
· Wearing dark clothing while walking at night
You might be even more surprised to know that 60% of those killed last year in pedestrian-vehicle crashes were over the age of 40. That’s right, we’re not just talking about distracted students or young children; most pedestrian infractions are committed by adults.
Tragically, in recent years, Baltimore County is experiencing a significant increase in the number of serious pedestrian crashes. Each year, the Baltimore County Police and Fire Departments respond to about 420 pedestrian-vehicle crashes - that’s more than one accident every day, on average! In 2013, the number of fatal crashes in Baltimore County increased more than in the last five years.
Though pedestrian related crashes are prevalent throughout Baltimore County, there are particular areas where rates are higher, such as Liberty Road in Randallstown, York Road in Towson, and Merritt Boulevard in Dundalk. Each of these areas has high volumes of traffic, which can result in greater chances of injury. There are also large numbers of pedestrian crashes near bus stops, as pedestrians can sometimes focus more on making the bus or rushing home than on their own safety.
With the drastic increase in pedestrian accidents in the last few years, Baltimore County is launching a “Heads Up! Walk Safe” public awareness campaign, focusing on four simple reminders:
· Obey the Law: always cross at a crosswalk or intersection
· Avoid Distractions: put away the cell phones and other electronic devices while crossing
· Be Visible: when walking or running at night, wear bright colors
· Be Aware: be mindful of your surroundings and know when a vehicle is approaching
Find out more on the County’s Walk Safe web page. On behalf of our fellow first responders, please walk safely and don’t be our next crash victim!
Edited by Justin Tucker, Baltimore County Office of Communications Intern
Baltimore County Police Sergeant Pat Stonko, Burglary Unit
The blog title sums up what some criminals think about this time of year. There are some things to think about whether you’re on your way to the ocean or staying at home.
- Burglars are opportunists and look for the easiest way in. Unlocked doors and windows make life simple for a burglar. If you can, resist the temptation to leave windows ajar at night, or when you go out during the day when the weather gets hot. It’s easy to pry a window open if given a little wiggle room at the bottom of the window.
- You can’t always stop burglars, but you can deter them by making it difficult to enter your home.
- Sheds and garages are targeted more in the summer months. They often have bicycles and lawn equipment inside. Heavy duty locks on sheds slow down a criminal and may deter him altogether.
- Have a family member or trusted neighbor pick up your mail and all other deliveries. Piles of mail in the mailbox are clues to your absence.
- Going away? The world can wait to see your vacation pictures until you get home.
- Share memorable moments with family and friends through texts or emails. Steer clear of social media when you’re on the road.
- Use location spotters on smart phones with caution. The GPS tells your friends and family where you are. The spotter is also a helpful tool for a burglar. He can estimate how long he has to steal your valuables before you arrive home.
- There are people we inadvertently tell that we are we going away: the bank cashier, the cashier at the store, the person at the doctor’s office. We are so excited at the prospect of a vacation, we need to share it. Be careful sharing your plans with people you don’t know.
- If possible, check your credit cards and bank cards while you’re away. This will help you guard against credit card or identity theft while you’re having fun.
- Check your smoke, fire and carbon monoxide detectors before you leave for vacation or that quick, one day get-away. If a fire breaks out, the alarm could save your home and maybe a neighbor’s home as well.
Have a nice summer, have a great vacation and when driving, be sure to buckle up.
Tomorrow, I will have the honor of speaking at the annual Baltimore County Police Memorial Ceremony. Every year, family, friends, and co-workers from across the County come together next to the memorial that overlooks Patriot Plaza in Towson to recognize the bravery and heroism of the Baltimore County Police Officers who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.
Recalling the bravery and dedication of these heroic men and women is always a humbling experience. I am sure that tomorrow will be no exception. However, what always strikes me the most about our fallen heroes is the nature of their bravery.
Like most of our jobs, our officers have their quiet days, but unlike the rest of us, the men and women of the Baltimore County Police Department can never relax. Each of our officers knows that on even the most boring and routine day of their careers, the worst case scenario can be right around the corner. They know that at any minute they may be asked to put their own safety at risk to protect their community.
Having the courage, discipline, and commitment to handle such a stark reality is remarkable. Yet it’s just another day in the life for the men and women of the Baltimore County Police Department. As Baltimore County Executive, and as a father raising a family here, I could not be more grateful that these officers are on the street each and everyday, prepared to do whatever it takes to keep our County safe.