Speed limit slips driver's mind No more excuses: After a $515 ticket for going 113 mph in a 45 mph zone, motorist says he's a changed man.

Intrepid Commuter

March 18, 1996

A MONTH ago we wrote about speeders after we received copies of the traffic citations that they were issued.

These weren't just average speeders. These road runners were clocked doing at least 30 mph over the speed limit. And in two instances, the motorists exceeded the limit by 60 mph or better.

Why?

"I just don't realize how fast I'm going sometime," said one offender, a 33-year-old man with two children who lives in Howard County. "It's not as though I meant to break the law, but I'm more aware of it now."

The man, who asked that his name not be used (and we grudgingly agreed), was caught doing 113 mph in a 45 mph zone on U.S. 40 in Catonsville, near the Howard County line. The area is through a hilly, winding section of Patapsco State Park and just past a shopping district.

The motorist said he travels the route daily in his Pontiac TransAm with a speedometer that registers speeds up to 150 mph and, until given the citation, probably drove comparable speeds regularly.

"I just don't think about how fast I'm going until I see a cop. But I don't drive that way anymore," he said.

Strange what a $515 ticket and five points on the driving record can do.

When the Intrepid One was a young wheeler and received a couple of citations, the Motor Vehicle Administration required us to take a class where we reviewed the traffic laws, driver safety and watched gory movies of traffic accidents. Those classes are still around.

Marilyn Corbett of the Motor Vehicle Administration said a driver's license will be suspended after violations total eight points. However, if the suspension is appealed, the motorist might be ordered to complete a driver's improvement course, where no doubt many of those sobering films are shown.

Edgewood residents decry bus stop at intersection

It's no joy to follow a school bus, with all of its stops to load and unload students. But that's not why residents in the Edgewood community of Harford County are upset.

They're riled that a school bus routinely stops each afternoon at or near an intersection instead of in front of a nearby elementary school that is part of a three-school complex. The bus stops on Willoughby Beach Road near Perry Avenue for pickup and delivery of students.

Willoughby Beach Road is a heavily traveled, five-lane passageway with two lanes in each direction and a center turn lane that both directions of traffic use.

"Autos approaching this bus when stopped are confused as to where they are to stop," said William Pitts, who lives in Edgewood. "It is sometimes necessary to stop in the middle of the intersection" which puts the motorist at risk and causes backups.

Paul Welch, director of transportation for Harford County schools, said the county recently reviewed the stop and pushed the stop back 100 feet from the intersection toward the complex.

"We try to move off of intersections whenever possible," said Mr. Welch, noting that intersections controlled by traffic signals are especially confusing.

"The red light of the bus and the green traffic light sometimes makes people feel compelled to go," he said.

He said the bus returns students from a vocational program to the complex which includes a high school, middle school and elementary school and does not pull onto school grounds because students would have to walk across the congested Willoughby Beach Road. Traffic stops in both directions when the bus stops, allowing the students to cross the street safely.

But even with the bus stop adjustments at the intersection, Mr. Pitts feels it is still dangerous.

"All this could be avoided if the county would move to the stop to a safe loading area," he said.

Pedestrians ignore signals and keep on walking

Question: what good are crosswalk indicators if no one pays attention to them?

The idea of these indicators are noble to help people cross busy streets but they seem to be routinely ignored throughout the metropolitan area.

For instance, we were sitting on Calvert Street waiting for the signal at Centre Street to change. We watched as pedestrians obeyed the crosswalk indicator and crossed in front of us and we watched as the indicator flashed red and gave a don't walk signal

But did pedestrians stop crossing? Nope. Did they stop crossing as the traffic signal changed to allow us motorists to proceed? Not a chance.

So we camped at several intersections and asked people who crossed against the indicator if they were: a) in a hurry and couldn't wait, b) stupid, c) simply don't understand how to cross a street or d) felt the pedestrian has the right of way at all intersections.

"If people can't wait a few seconds longer then I feel very sorry for them," said Cynthia Gardner, 30, who, while pushing a baby carriage, did not not even begin walking across Calvert Street until the red signal flashed.

"We're all in a hurry, but they see me with a baby and just trying to cross the street. What, are they going to run me over?"

Perhaps the best place to watch ignored crosswalk signals is Washington and Allegheny avenues in Towson.

"Everybody does business people, schoolchildren, women with baby carriages, cops," said James Berringer, who lives in Harford County and works at the Towson courthouse.

"It's just that they don't care that the light has changed or will change momentarily; they just want to cross the street and because they're the pedestrian, they're going to go right then."

Lt. Minda Foxwell of the Baltimore County traffic unit said that although pedestrians have the right of way at most intersections, they are taking a risk when crossing against the crosswalk indicator.

"They have a duty not to step into a crosswalk if traffic is there," Lieutenant Foxwell said.

Aside from being dangerous, it's frustrating for motorists to wait for pedestrians after having sat through a traffic signal.

Pub Date: 3/18/96

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