Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Howard County Police Department Best Practice on Aggressive Driving

One of the presenters at the Bike Maryland Symposium yesterday as Howard County Chief of Police William McMahon.

He made the point that in Howard County, there are relatively few homicides, 4-6 each year, while each year there are 20-25 motor vehicle related deaths, and that nationally there are more deaths from motor vehicles than there are from homicides. (In Maryland, this is true for every jurisdiction except two, Baltimore City and Prince George's County.)

He made the point that a death is a death and that deaths from motor vehicle accidents should be treated as seriously as homicides.

One of the practices he mentioned that the department does is a practice that definitely needs to be taken up by other jurisdictions.

While there is a high standard of evidence required for the police to be able to write a ticket or charge someone with a crime if a police officer did not witness the incident, the Howard County Police Department encourages people to report acts of aggressive driving involving cars, pedestrians, or bicyclists.

They will send a letter to the owner of the vehicle stating that (1) a report was made; (2) concerning the vehicle and a particular illegal act; (3) the consequences from acting in this fashion; and (4) an "apology" if this report was made in error.

They send out over 300 letters each month.

I think it's an interesting program. Most of the time people don't get the cues they need to stop behaving badly, until it's too late. This kind of program ought to be in place in more jurisdictions across the county.

Of course, some departments might argue that it takes a lot of resources. But then, given that in most jurisdictions, more people die or are injured in motor vehicle accidents, maybe the way that resources are allocated need to be changed somewhat to accommodate this fact.

(Images from the Columbia Patch and the Savage-Guilford Patch.)

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