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Drivers and Pedestrians Must Be Vigilant

Investigation of June Potomac pedestrian fatality continues, one of 11 so far this year in the county.

Detectives from the collision reconstruction unit worked last week on investigating the June 2 death at Cabin John Shopping Center.

Detectives from the collision reconstruction unit worked last week on investigating the June 2 death at Cabin John Shopping Center. Photo by Mary Kimm.

At Fault

Since 2008 there has been an increase in the percentage of collisions in which the driver was determined to be at fault.

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008

Driver Fault 59% 56 49 46 41

Pedestrian Fault 35% 40 43 42 44

Street Safety Tips

If driving ...

  • Slow down and obey the speed limit
  • Look twice for people in crosswalks and yield to pedestrians and bicyclists
  • Be careful when passing stopped vehicles
  • Yield to pedestrians and cyclists at intersections when you're turning
  • Allow three feet when passing bicyclists
  • Look for cyclists and cars before opening the door
  • Avoid using your cell phone and never text while driving

If walking ...

  • Cross the street at the corner and use marked crosswalks when available
  • Wait for the “Walk” signal to cross the street
  • Watch for turning vehicles. Before crossing look left, right, and left again
  • Be seen. If walking after dark or in bad weather, make it easier for drivers to see you by wearing light clothing or something reflective
  • Don’t text while crossing the street
  • If on an off-street trail, obey all posted signage and approach intersections with caution

If biking ...

  • Obey all traffic signs and traffic signals
  • Ride in the direction of traffic, at least a car door width away from parked cars
  • Use hand signals so drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians know what youʼre going to do
  • Always wear a helmet
  • Use lights if riding at times of darkness
  • If on an off-street trail, obey all posted signage and approach intersections with caution
  • Slow down and watch for pedestrians on sidewalks, trails and in crosswalks

— Pedestrian Shirley Stearman, 81 of Potomac, died after being hit by a car at approximately 1:50 p.m. in the Cabin John Shopping Center parking lot at 7919 Tuckerman Lane Sunday, June 2.

Last week, Montgomery County Police detectives from the Collision Reconstruction Unit investigated the fatal pedestrian collision in the Potomac shopping center.

The investigation could take two more months to complete.

"There are no updates at this point and the investigation is still open," said Angela Cruz, Montgomery County Police spokesperson.

In Montgomery County, more than 400 pedestrians are struck by vehicles each year. In 2012, 423 pedestrians were struck by vehicles with six fatalities according to county documents. Many of these collisions could be avoided if drivers and pedestrians obeyed the law and were more aware, according to county data in the Pedestrian Safety Campaign.

"Obviously, during the summer, people are up and about. It's important for everyone to be vigilant," said Cruz. "We always advise both pedestrians and drivers to always be vigilant and never expect anyone to stop. Err on the side of caution.”

There have been 11 pedestrian fatalities in Montgomery County through June 13, according to Montgomery County Police, and 107 reports for pedestrian injury collisions during the first quarter of 2013. With the second quarter not yet complete, 69 reports have been received through June 12, according to Montgomery County Police reports.

"Drivers and pedestrians have equal responsibilities in reducing pedestrian-involved collisions," according to county documents on the Pedestrian Safety Campaign.

Since 2008 there has been an increase in the percentage of collisions in which the driver was determined to be at fault, according to county documents.

Pedestrians Struck by Vehicles

Year Total Collisions Fatalities

2012 423 6

2011 399 11

2010 436 13

2009 454 14

In April, a new campaign began that warns motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists to exercise caution: "Remember to make eye contact with drivers when you're walking so you don't get hit. See them see you."

In the Potomac parking lot on June 2, a 43-year-old Germantown resident was driving a 2009 Acura MDX through the parking lot. “At the end of the parking aisle near the store, the driver made a left turn and struck the pedestrian who had just parked her car and was walking toward the store,” according to police reports.

Montgomery County Fire Rescue personnel were in the shopping center on an unrelated call and immediately assisted Stearman, according to police reports. She later died after being transported to Suburban Hospital.