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Grant money will help keep pedestrians safe

April 24, 2004|by LAURA ERNDE

Police in Washington County are using a $5,000 state grant to crack down on people who break laws designed to keep pedestrians safe.

The Washington County Health Department awarded the state money as part of a community traffic safety program that's been in place for more than a decade, said Andrea Harris, program manager for prevention services.

A number of high-profile pedestrian highway deaths in Montgomery County drew the state's attention to the problem.

When Harris looked at the problem locally, she found that pedestrian safety was a problem in Washington County, too.

"It started as a state initiative, but we did note that we had a problem, enough of a problem to warrant attention," Harris said.

In 2003, three pedestrians were killed. In one case, the pedestrian was at fault. In the other two cases, it was due to driver error, she said.

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"We thought even one fatality was too much," she said.

With the grant money, police have been able to pay officers overtime to conduct stings at crosswalks and enforce speed limits in areas where there are a lot of pedestrians.

In February, after a 6-year-old girl darted in front of a car on her way to Winter Street Elementary School, Hagerstown Police have targeted that area, she said.

Both drivers and pedestrians are being given citations, she said.

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