Speakout

July 23, 2006

THE ISSUE: -- Howard County police recently cited 17 violators over a 70-minute period for failing to stop for pedestrians (undercover police officers) on Oakland Mills Road near Sewells Orchard. Motorists are required by state law to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. Do you think it is a good use of police resources to conduct these pedestrian-safety efforts?

Police are correct in enforcing the law

I frequently cross Oakland Mills Road near Sewell's Orchard on my walks. The intersection there is very dangerous. Motorists frequently do not observe proper right-of-way procedures for other motorists, to say nothing of observing pedestrians' right of way. It is frankly amazing that there are not more frequent accidents at that spot.

So I applaud the Howard County Police Department for its efforts to educate the community to be aware of pedestrians, through enforcing the pedestrian right of way. This should not be something the HCPD should have to do. We all learned to observe the pedestrian right of way when we learned to drive. But this rule of the road is not followed, making this enforcement exercise necessary.

Much has been written about Columbia becoming a more "pedestrian-friendly" community. We can all help make this possible by simply practicing safe, responsible driving. But if the behavior of motorists threatens public safety -- be it the pedestrian right of way, speeding, or other forms of unsafe driving -- the HCPD has every right to enforce the laws.

Bill Woodcock Columbia

The writer is the chairman of the Oakland Mills Village Board, but his view does not reflect an official position of the board.

A great use of county resources

I believe this to be a great use of Howard County resources. Maryland law requires motorists to stop or yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. A large amount of motorists do not know this to be the case. If a 2,000-pound vehicle were to strike a pedestrian at any speed, that person has very little chance of survival. The police are just doing their jobs. What better way to get the message out, other than enforcing the law and having you write about it.

C. Adams Elkridge

Let the police do their jobs

Why would we question if this is a good use of police resources if the law says that vehicles must yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk and the police are out there enforcing the law. The police are doing their job and making it safer for pedestrians to cross the road. It is better to be proactive and give citations to those who do not yield to pedestrians before they kill or seriously injure somebody. Maybe that ticket or fear of receiving a ticket is enough to get them to comply. Leave the police alone and let them do their jobs.

Jeff Specht Baltimore

If a car is coming, walkers should wait

I think the police can make better use of their time by teaching pedestrians that it is not a good idea to step off the curb into the path of an oncoming car. Mom was right -- "look both ways before crossing."

It is also probably not a good idea to stroll leisurely across the street nor to stop and chat in the middle of the street. These mistakes can result in "pedestrian error" accidents. I also think it is a bad idea for drivers to stop dead in their tracks because someone is standing on the curb who might want to cross the street. These folks run the risk of getting rear-ended.

The key words in the law are "pedestrians [already] in the crosswalk." The law does not give pedestrians the right to just walk out into the traffic. If there is a car coming, WAIT!

Harriet Lewis Columbia

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