DC-Area Officials Vow to Crack Down on Deadly Traffic Violations

Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians throughout the D.C. area should be extra careful to follow traffic laws in the coming week -- for their personal safety and their wallets.

Through Dec. 3 or later, police say they will ticket more drivers who fail to yield and pedestrians who jaywalk.

Tickets for traffic violations like jaywalking or failing to yield could cost you between $40 and $500 or points against your driver’s license, officials say.

When Montgomery County police staked out an area on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda Tuesday, they gave drivers at least 26 warnings and 49 tickets.

They also warned pedestrians to stop jaywalking.

In that county, 8 pedestrians were killed in accidents last year. This year, 9 pedesterians have been killed so far. The increased enforcement will last through Dec. 9 in that county.

Officials hope strictly enforcing traffic laws will curb the usual spike in pedestrian-involved crashes that occur when days get shorter in winter.

The crackdown is the newest effort from Street Smart, a program sponsored by D.C., Maryland and Virginia governments to help cyclists and pedestrians stay safe.

Last year, 67 pedestrians and 10 bicyclists were killed in traffic crashes, the group says.

Officials also released these tips to help drivers, cyclists and pedestrians stay safe this season:

If you’re driving…

  • Slow down and obey the speed limit.
  • Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.
  • Be careful when passing buses or stopped vehicles.
  • When turning, yield to people walking and biking.
  • Look for bicyclists before opening your door.
  • Allow at least three feet when passing bikes.
  • Avoid using your cell phone and never text while driving.

If you’re walking…

  • Cross the street at the corner and use marked crosswalks when they’re available.
  • Use the push buttons.
  • Wait for the walk signal to cross the street.
  • Watch for turning vehicles.
  • Before crossing, look left, right, and left again.
  • Be visible. Wear something light or reflective after dark.
  • Watch out for blind spots around trucks and buses.
  • Avoid using your cell phone while you’re crossing the street.
  • On an off-street trail, obey all posted signage and approach intersections with caution.

If you’re biking…

  • Obey signs and signals.
  • Never ride against traffic.
  • Ride in a straight line at least 3 feet from parked cars.
  • Use hand signals to tell drivers what you intend to do.
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Use lights at night and when visibility is poor.
  • On an off-street trail, obey all posted signs and approach intersections with caution.
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