Police to target red-light runners

Trouble spots get extra scrutiny starting Wednesday

September 19, 1999|By Devon Spurgeon | Devon Spurgeon,SUN STAFF

It may look like an ordinary intersection, but where Routes 648 and 177 meet in Pasadena is one of the Anne Arundel's most dangerous. County police say they see about one accident a week, ranging from the minor bumper crushers to the more severe crashes with injuries at the busy crossroads anchored by Rite-Aid and McDonald's.

The junction is less than a quarter-mile from Ritchie Highway and Route 100 as well as where Jumpers Hole Road and Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard shoot off Route 177. Heavy traffic on this confluence of roads might have contributed to the 48 crashes in 1998 at Routes 648 and 177.

But police have another theory -- lead-footed drivers blitzing through red lights.

This intersection is among a half-dozen trouble spots that county police will begin monitoring heavily Wednesday in a crackdown on red-light runners. Calling the operation "Stop on Red Week," police say they will ticket offending motorists, making county roads safer for those who hit the brake instead of the gas when they see a yellow light.

"Yellow means do not speed up," said Desie "Mac" McIntyre, who was waxing his father's car in a parking lot next to the Pasadena intersection. "It is like if the light is yellow, they barely slow down."

The crackdown precedes the Oct. 1 legislation that increases the points assessed for running a red light. A red-light violation will cost drivers $120 and one point. If they drive through the light and hit someone, three points will be assessed. Piling up eight points means a suspended license.

Police will be on the lookout for violators at five other places throughout the county. They will monitor two intersections in Crofton: Route 3 and Waugh Chapel Road, where 40 accidents occurred last year, and at Defense Highway and Route 3, which had 37 accidents.

In Glen Burnie, the crossroads at Route 2 and Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard, with 33 crashes, is on the list.

In Annapolis, motorists will see officers ready to write tickets at Roscoe Rowe Boulevard and Route 50, where 41 accidents occurred last year. Also targeted will be Riva Road and Route 665 in Annapolis, which had 43 crashes. John Morris, a spokesman for the Department of Public Works, says the large employment center in Annapolis near the intersection of Route 665 causes trouble during rush hour, which often can lead to accidents.

"We have proposed connecting Admiral Cochran Drive from Riva Road to Route 2," he said. "Right now, it only connects to Riva Road." That change may alleviate some of the congestion, he added.

But even with fewer cars on the road, red-light runners are causing accidents.

"Most crashes are caused by running red lights," said Deputy Chief Gary Barr. "People are in too much of a hurry, and they compromise safety for speed."

During the most recent red-light campaign, in April, police targeted 14 locations and made 284 stops. They wrote 118 citations and 166 warnings.

The crackdown comes as a relief to Mike Diehl, 23, who lives in Marley Station Apartments near Jumpers Hole Road and Route 2, where 20 collisions occurred in 1998. He said he hears the screech of tires "at least five times a day."

"I just got used to it," he said.

Pub Date: 9/19/99

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