Police Ticket Dozens of Drivers for Crosswalk Violations in Bethesda
Officers patrolled a stretch of Wisconsin Avenue Wednesday
A police motorcycle pursues a car that failed to stop at a pedestrian crosswalk.
Ray Sing was walking on a crosswalk on Wisconsin Avenue Wednesday morning when a car hit him.
“He looked left, but not right, and then he taps me,” said Sing, an Ashburn, Virginia resident who was shaken by the incident but not injured. “I guess he looked at that point.”
The driver of that car was one of dozens pulled over by Montgomery County police Wednesday in a crosswalk violation enforcement campaign. Police targeted cars that failed to stop for pedestrians.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., an officer wearing a bright green shirt slowly crossed the crosswalk on Wisconsin Avenue at its intersection with Chase Avenue in downtown Bethesda. Whenever a car didn’t stop for her or another pedestrian, she radioed the car’s description to an officer down the road, who would initiate a traffic stop.
“Oftentimes what we’ve seen here today is all four officers are [already] conducting stops, so she’ll have to actually stop walking across because she has nobody to call out to,” Lt. David McBain, who was on the scene, said. “That’s how many violations we’re seeing.”
An officer crosses the intersection in Bethesda, wearing green to be more noticable.
In the first half hour of enforcement there, police had already issued about 15 tickets, McBain said.
Police monitored three locations in the county Wednesday, though Bethesda received the most violations.
Of 76 total citations, 52 were issued in Bethesda, according to Lucille Baur, a county spokeswoman. Another 19 were issued in Rockville at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Dodge Street, and five were issued at 355 and Gunners Branch Road in Germantown.
Tickets for failing to stop for a pedestrian at a crosswalk or passing a car that is stopped for a pedestrian carry an $80 fine, McBain said. They also result in one point on the license of the driver.
Since officers can’t always enforce every crosswalk, police look at the data and “go to where the problems are,” McBain said. Downtown business areas have the most crosswalk violations, both from cars that fail to stop and pedestrians who cross when they’re not supposed to, McBain said.
In particular, the intersection of Wisconsin and Chase avenues was known to police for its high number of violations, including several collisions.
McBain said police would enforce illegal pedestrian crossings at a later date and would continue to enforce driver violations at crosswalks throughout the summer at different locations. One area they will focus on is Wisconsin Avenue from Battery Lane to the Washington, D.C., line.
“The goal is just to prevent accidents from occurring,” he said.
Police wait for violators on Wisconsin Avenue. Credit: Joe Zimmermann