Drivers warned about running red lights Police to increase efforts in regional crackdown

July 03, 1996|By Kaana Smith | Kaana Smith,SUN STAFF

Starting tomorrow, drivers who run red lights will run a much greater risk of getting caught -- and fined.

Police departments throughout the Baltimore area are launching summer-long crackdown, assigning more officers to watch intersections, with the goal of reducing accidents caused by drivers who run lights, officials announced yesterday.

"We're just trying to make people realize how serious the matter is in Baltimore City," said Officer Michael Brandt.

Each year about 3,700 accidents and 20 deaths occur in the state because drivers failed to stop for a red light, according to the Maryland Highway Administration.

Fines for the infraction were raised from $50 to $115 in October, but red-light running continues to be a growing problem, according to highway administration studies.

In a separate city police crackdown that began in January, 4,283 tickets were issued for running lights in the first three months of the year -- nearly four times the number written in the same period in 1995.

Maryland State Police and police departments in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties will participate in the regional program, which will receive federal funds to help pay for overtime and equipment.

Among the special enforcement efforts planned:

Cameras mounted on traffic signals are being tested in Howard County. The cameras will snap pictures of offenders' license plates; vehicle owners will receive warning letters.

Baltimore City police will receive help from Special Traffic Enforcement Officers -- Department of Public Works employees who assist in directing traffic -- who have been authorized to write tickets for moving violations.

Baltimore County police will focus their efforts on Pulaski Highway, Belair Road and Route 40.

In Carroll County, state police will target state Routes 30, 97 and 140 to assist local police.

The new red light program -- dubbed the "Running Red Lights" campaign -- was announced yesterday by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, a governmental coordinating agency.

To kick off the program, police officers from each participating agency and children from the Performing Arts Christian Academy in Northeast Baltimore gathered at "Baltimore Safety City," an area of mini-streets in Druid Hill Park where children learn safety lessons.

Event organizers emphasized that drivers who run lights endanger children.

"There are other people who depend on drivers to stop, such as kids who are waiting to cross safely as they have been taught to do," said Barbara A. Morgan, a council spokeswoman.

Pub Date: 7/03/96

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