Running the red Police crackdown along busy Ritchie Highway is greatly needed.

December 31, 1996

THE EASTERN DISTRICT of the Anne Arundel County Police Department has begun cracking down on motorists who run red lights along some of the busiest stretches of Ritchie Highway. Their action comes none too soon.

Like jaywalking, running red lights has reached epidemic proportions. Whereas motorists once stopped as soon as the light turned yellow, it is now not rare to see three or even more cars roar through an intersection after the light has turned red. It is a miracle that more serious accidents have not resulted from such irresponsible conduct.

The practice has become widespread because motorists know they can get away with it. The more citations are issued, the more likely it is that the message will sink in that running a red light carries a penalty. Police have targeted the following Ritchie Highway intersections for enforcement: College Parkway, Jones Station Road, Cypress Creek Road, McKinsey Road and Robinson Road. The intersection of Route 2 and West Street in Annapolis is also closely watched."The potential is there for some serious accidents and we've had a few," says Capt. Michael Fitzgibbons, commander of the Eastern District.

It is difficult to fathom why running red lights has become such a widespread phenomenon in Maryland. Perhaps it is because people see other motorists doing it with abandon and decide to join the crowd since there's no apparent sanction. Another theory: It is one more senseless shortcut people feel obliged to take because they're always running behind their stuffed, personal schedules.

It seems that many motorists have decided that rules in general do not apply to them. They don't halt for stop signs, nor right-on-red signs before making the turn as the law specifies. The situation has become so severe that state lawmakers may consider allowing police to mount cameras at troublesome intersections, so they can document drivers running red lights and mail citations to them.

Automobiles are such a vital part of American life that unless some very basic enforced rules exist, the result will be anarchy. That's why the county police department's red-light enforcement drive is welcome, particularly in the midst of heavy holiday traffic.

Pub Date: 12/31/96

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