Tag: public safety

Hopkins Campaigns to Curb Pedestrian Deaths in Baltimore

via Graham Coreil-Allen on Flickr
via Graham Coreil-Allen on Flickr

30 percent of all pedestrian crashes in Maryland happen right in Baltimore. That’s 700 pedestrian crashes in the city every year. 100 result in a death. Of the other 600, many cause “life changing injuries.” Luckily, Johns Hopkins has offered its research prowess to solving the public safety issue, and it’s teaming with the MVA to campaign for pedestrian safety.

What did they learn from their 4,000-respondent online survey, focus groups, and expert interviews? Motorists and pedestrians are equally to blame for the accidents. The campaign is urging walkers to “stop, wait, go slow. Be alert and don’t get hurt.” It doesn’t look sound that catchy at first, but it’s memorable enough.

Tickets Issued to Distracted Drivers in Maryland Have Tripled



Ever since using a cellphone while driving became a primary offense in Maryland — meaning distracted drivers could be pulled over for cellphone use alone — police across the state have tripled the number of tickets they’ve issued to gabby motorists. It’s $83 for the first offense, then $140, then $160. Then your loved ones stage an intervention to try to convince you to get with the program.

So, yes, you really better hang up the phone and drive. But not because of the fine. The fine is nothing compared with the risk of an accident and the tragedy that might entail. And come October, distracted driving that causes “a serious or fatal crash” could come with jail time.

Both Houses Pass Bills That Provide Jail Time for Texting-Related Collisions



On Thursday the Maryland Senate passed a version of “Jake’s Law” that would provide serious penalties for motorists whose distracted driving causes serious accidents. The House of Delegates passed a similar bill on March 14.

Jake’s Law would provide a prison sentence of up to three years and fine of up to $5,000 for any driver whose manually entered texts cause an accident that results in serious injury or death. As if Werner Herzog’s chilling anti-texting documentary weren’t enough!

Baltimore Police Say It’s Okay for the Public to Film Them, for Real This Time



For more than two years now, Baltimore police have had a standing order to allow the public to videotape them as they go about their business. But according to the American Civil Liberties Union, the order wasn’t good enough. And the proof is in the pudding! Just last month officers demanded a college student cease filming an arrest in Towson and “pushed away” a Baltimore Sun photographer at a crime scene.

Now, after coughing up $250,000 over a complaint from a man who claims Baltimore police erased his cell phone video of an arrest at Preakness in 2010, the department is definitively changing its policy.

As reported in the Baltimore Sun, the new rule states: “Members of the general public have a First Amendment right to video record, photograph, and/or audio record BPD members while BPD members are conducting official business … unless such recordings interfere with police activity.”

Baltimore’s Police Force May Soon Grow by 300 Officers



The Baltimore Police Department has announced that they are looking to remedy the city’s extreme cop shortage by going on a massive hiring binge of 300 new officers. The department hopes to complete hiring by the end of the summer. Assuming they meet that goal, we should notice a huge boost in patrol officers by August or September.

Acording to Lt. Eric Kowalczyk, “community after community” has been voicing its desire for a larger police presence. Despite Sgt. Sarah Connolly’s previous assurances that our overworked and understaffed police force in no way impacts “the safety of our citizens,” Police Commissioner Anthony Batts has conceded that there are simply too few officers to handle the level of crime we’ve been seeing.

Just for Old Times’ Sake: Balto. Co. Voids 1,500 Speed Camera Tickets


speed camera

Baltimore city’s speed cameras have been offline for some time now, so I got nostalgic when I read that Baltimore County was recently forced to void almost 1,500 speeding citations due to a snafu with its camera vendor.

I almost begin to tear up when I think of Xerox — the company that once upon a time operated our cameras — missing “a certification deadline related to camera calibration” back in February that forced the county to “immediately and proactively” take those cameras offline and trash a whole mess of tickets. 

Here’s How the General Assembly Is Going to Make You Really Hang Up That Cellphone



Driving while using a hand-held phone has been a secondary offense in Maryland since 2010. It’s illegal, but you can only get a ticket for it if you’re being pulled over for something else. So it’s more like there’s a law against using a cellphone while driving with a taillight out, or using a cellphone while crossing the center line, or using a cellphone while unsafely passing. And as far as I can tell, Maryland drivers have been acting accordingly.