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Media Advisory

Street Smart Virtual Reality Challenge Teaches Safety and Awareness; Aims to Reduce Annual Spike in Pedestrian Crashes at End of Daylight Saving Time

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Montgomery County is a member of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments' (COG) Street Smart pedestrian and bicycle safety campaign. This fall's kick-off education and enforcement event, hosted by the Maryland Department of Transportation, is being held in Montgomery County at Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring. It includes the Washington-area premiere of a dynamic pedestrian/bicycle safety virtual reality challenge open to the  general public and attending members of the media. Pedestrian safety enforcement will also be conducted by Montgomery County Police on streets near Veterans Plaza. 

On November 8, DC-area officials will launch the new Street Smart Virtual Reality Challenge. This traveling educational exhibit will feature an interactive, virtual reality experience that lets participants encounter traffic scenarios frequently associated with crashes, injuries, and deaths of people walking and biking.


The Virtual Reality Challenge is part of the ongoing COG Street Smart campaign, focused on reducing injuries and deaths of pedestrians and bicyclists in the metropolitan Washington region. The Street Smart Virtual Reality Challenge runs from November 5 through December 2 and includes events in D.C., suburban Maryland, and Northern Virginia. During this time period, police departments across the region will also be stepping up enforcement of traffic safety laws that protect pedestrians and cyclists.

Every year, the end of Daylight Saving Time is associated with an increase in the number of pedestrians injured or killed across the county during the evening commute. When clocks fall back, the evening commute gets darker — and more dangerous. Regional data indicate that in 2017, pedestrian crashes peaked during the month of November. The Street Smart Virtual Reality Challenge educates both drivers and pedestrians about how to stay safe during this dangerous time of year.


WHAT         News conference and launch of the Street Smart Virtual Reality Challenge with officials from throughout the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Northern Virginia in attendance.


WHEN:          Thursday, November 8 at 10:30 A.M.


WHERE:       Veterans Plaza

                     1 Veterans Pl., Silver Spring, MD 20910


  • Kelly Melhem, Deputy Chief, Maryland Highway Safety Office

  • Hans Riemer, Montgomery County Council President

  • Chief Hank Stawinski, Prince George’s County Police Department

  • Captain Thomas Didone, Director, Montgomery County Police Traffic Division

  • John Saunders, Director, DMV’s Virginia Highway Safety Office

  • Sam Zimbabwe, Chief Project Delivery Officer, District Department of Transportation


  • Virtual Reality Challenge:Participants will sit behind the wheel of a campaign-themed convertible, where they will immerse themselves in a 360-degree virtual reality experience of traffic scenarios, while the technology captures their ability to spot pedestrians and cyclists – some showing up in unexpected places.

  • Live Enforcement: Media option to capture footage of live law enforcement activities with Montgomery County Police Department immediately following press conference. 


COG Contact: Jeff Salzgeber: [email protected], (512) 743-2659   

The Council of Governments is an independent, nonprofit association where area leaders address regional issues affecting the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland, and Northern Virginia.

Media Contact: [email protected] or 240-876-5530