Woman dies in crash at light

Fatality occurs near safety event for `Stop on Red Week'

`Growing concern'

Law toughening penalty for offenders goes into effect today

October 01, 1999|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

While police were staging a traffic safety event yesterday in Pasadena to highlight a crackdown on red-light runners, a woman was killed in a car crash four miles north in Glen Burnie. The cause of the crash? Running a red light.

The accident occurred at about 2: 10 p.m. when a 1985 Buick Century heading north on Ritchie Highway struck the front passenger side of a Buick LeSabre attempting to make a U-turn at Sixth Avenue N.E., police said.

Anne Arundel County police said Doris Minnie Duckworth, 72, of the 1200 block of Kenwood Road, a passenger in the LeSabre, died at the scene.

That the fatal accident happened during the traffic safety awareness campaign called "Stop on Red Week" dramatically reconfirms the urgency of obeying traffic signals, law enforcement officials said.

"It was an unfortunate coincidence that gives credibility to the need for people to pay attention to traffic lights," said Charles Ravenell, a county police spokesman. "Some people see running a red light as not a big deal."

Police were investigating the accident last night and had not determined who was at fault.

Gregory Brown, 42, of the 700 block of Carroll St. in Baltimore was driving the Century. He was listed in serious but stable condition last night at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, police said.

Edna May Armstrong, 81, of Mountainhome, Pa., driver of the LeSabre, was scheduled to be released last night from North Arundel Hospital, police said.

"Incredible," said Del. William A. Bronrott, Montgomery County Democrat, on learning of the crash.

Bronrott attended yesterday's event to talk about a state law he co-sponsored that increases from from one to two the points that the state Motor Vehicle Administration can assess against red-light runners. The law takes effect today.

Bronrott predicted that red-light running will emerge as the next big motor safety issue. He compared it to the growing awareness of drunken driving over the past 20 years, and pointed to the tougher penalties that have been enacted as a result.

"Most people today say red-light running is wrong, but think they can't get caught," Bronrott told the law enforcement officers, emergency service providers and traffic safety administrators gathered at Pasadena Crossroads shopping center.

"Time is running out on red-light runners in Maryland," he said. "There's enormous growing concern about intersection safety."

Officials at the red-light awareness program talked about traffic safety against a backdrop of rescue equipment, including fire trucks and a MedEvac helicopter.

Reduction of crashes

The "Stop on Red Week" initiative is designed to reduce red-light running crashes through educational awareness and coordination with local traffic safety programs. Sponsors of the public-private partnership include the American Trauma Society, the Federal Highway Administration and DaimlerChrysler Corp.

Anne S. Ferro, administrator of the Motor Vehicle Administration, applauded the new legislation that stiffens the penalties for running a red light.

"With a doubled point violation on running a red light, it means you're going to accumulate points faster," she said.

Under MVA regulations, a driver with three points receives a warning letter and must provide proof of insurance, and after five points, the MVA assigns the driver to a driver improvement program.

State transportation officials said 3,300 car crashes in Maryland last year were attributed to failure to obey traffic signals. The crashes resulted in 36 deaths and 3,600 injuries. Nationwide, drivers who ran red lights caused 89,000 crashes, inflicting 82,000 injuries and causing nearly 1,000 deaths.

From 1992 to last year, fatal crashes at intersections have increased by 16 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"These can be particularly dangerous because of the nature of the crash," said Kathy Lusby-Treber, director of the State Highway Administration's Highway Safety Office. "Many times it's a `T,' or side impact."

Jack B. Frazier, a chief with the Baltimore City Fire Department, said yesterday he always counts to eight before moving when stopped at an intersection.

"I'd rather get an obscene gesture or a blowing horn than a ride in the MedEvac," said Frazier, a member of the state Emergency Management Services Board.

Continuing effort

County police continued their most recent effort to crack down on red-light runners yesterday at Jumpers Hole Road and Ritchie Highway in Pasadena, one of Anne Arundel's most dangerous intersections.

Nine officers issued 39 citations for running red lights at the intersection from 12: 30 p.m. to 4 p.m., police said.

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