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Tips to Make You and Your Family Safer this Holiday Season

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The holiday season is officially starting. As you begin to take part in the travel, traditions and festivities of the season, please review what you can do to make your 2018 activities as safe as possible.    

 

General Guidelines for Staying Safe this Holiday Season

 

Tragically, we have seen a recent increase in pedestrian-related injury and fatal crashes. Activities and roads will continue to get busier during the holiday season. It is vital that everyone recognize the importance of following the best safe driving, walking and bicycling practices right now and throughout the new year. All of these general guidelines support the County’s Vision Zero initiative which has a goal to reduce severe and fatal collisions on County roads by 35 percent for vehicle occupants (drivers and passengers), pedestrians, and bicyclists by November 2019.

 

Be Seen:  Pedestrians need to remember that just because they can see a car, doesn’t mean that the driver can see them. Think about how to be more visible when walking during morning and evening periods of darkness. When you are purchasing a winter coat, consider purchasing a light-colored one, or select a white scarf and gloves. Look for reflective and/or flashing accessories in bicycle supply shops that can be easily worn with a coat. Carry a small flashlight in purse or coat pocket to use after dark. 

 

Be Alert:  Always give full attention when walking or driving. Maryland is a Hands-Free state, no texting or even holding a cell phone while you are driving. Distracted driving continues to be a leading cause of collisions. When walking by a roadway or crossing streets, don’t wear ear buds and don’t look down at a cell phone. Holiday shoppers are particularly encouraged to be aware of one another in parking lots.

 

Be Responsible:  Don’t Drink and Drive and don’t host a party for guests under the age of 21 that includes alcohol. During the holidays, County law enforcement agencies work together to deploy a Holiday Alcohol Task Force to reduce the incidents of drunk and drugged driving. Task force members will also be responding to reports of underage drinking parties. Adults and parents are asked to support zero tolerance of underage drinking. This year the task force began on November 14 and will continue through January 5, 2019.


Important Holiday Shopping Safety Tips include:

 

  • Don’t be distracted, Stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Lock your car doors and don’t leave anything of value within view.
  • If you take trips back to your vehicle to lighten your gift package load, move your car to a different parking space because potential thieves can be watching to see which vehicles contain gifts.
  • Don’t hide or store gifts in your trunk when you get home from shopping. Theft from vehicle is a prevalent crime.
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash.
  • Keep a list of credit cards at home, in case they are stolen.
  • Carry your closed purse in front of and close to your body.
  • Carry a wallet in a front jacket or pants pocket.
  • Don’t let your guard down because you are in a rush.

If someone does try to rob you, don’t resist. Give up your property; do not endanger your life. Report the crime to police as soon as possible, and try to describe the attacker as accurately as possible.


Package Theft "Porch Pirate" Prevention:

Choose A Delivery Address Wisely

  • Choose to Have Package Delivered to An Attended Location
    • When you order something online, consider sending the package to a place where you know someone will be available to receive it – your workplace or a friend or neighbor’s home.
  • Choose to Have Package Delivered to Carrier Location
    • Have your deliveries sent to the nearest shipping company center. Many shipping carriers will hold the package for up to five days.
  • Choose In-Store Pick Up
    • Many retailers provide the option of purchasing an item online and picking it up at the nearest retail location.

Know When Your Package Will Be Delivered – Sign Up For Notification Services

  • Many shipment companies offer services to help you track your deliveries by receiving text messages or an e-mail. You can then plan on being home at the time of delivery or ask a trusted friend or neighbor to stop by the delivery location and retrieve the package.
  • After receiving a notification alert and you determine that you won’t be home, many carriers allow you to re-route your shipment to another location or to the carrier’s facility for later pick-up.

Require A Signature

  • Many shipping companies offer a service that requires a signature for a package to be released.

Provide Delivery Instructions

  • Many carriers allow residents to provide instructions on where the deliveries should be placed at the home (side porch, garage door, etc.)

Insure Your Package

  • Consider insuring your package. Contact your chosen mail carrier for coverage policies and requirements.

For Pedestrians:

  • Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Walk with confidence and know where you are going.
  • Trust your instincts; if something or someone makes you uneasy, avoid the person or leave the area.
  • Stick to well-lighted and well-traveled streets.  Avoid shortcuts through wooded areas, parking lots, or alleys.
  • Do not flash large amounts of cash or other tempting targets like expensive jewelry or clothing.
  • Have your car or house key in hand before you reach the door.
  • If you think that someone is following you, switch directions or cross the street and walk toward an open store, restaurant, or lighted house.

Both police and fire rescue personnel work together on the “Shop with a Cop or Firefighter” campaign. Officers and firefighters go to busy shopping center parking lots across the County to provide extra safety awareness. They’ll be handing out environmentally-friendly reusable shopping bags and pedestrian safety information cards.

 

The Heads Up in Parking Lots safety message:

Drivers:

  • Don’t drive distractedly – it’s illegal to hold a phone or text while driving.
  • Don’t assume pedestrians see you.
  • Be especially cautious backing out of a space.
  • Slow down! Parking lots are not speedways. 

Pedestrians:

  • Stop talking on the phone and texting while walking. Take out the ear buds.
  • Don’t assume drivers see you.
  • Don’t walk behind a vehicle that is backing out.
  • Be aware and constantly look out for moving vehicles.


Respect the Space reminders:

  • Drivers are reminded that it is illegal to park a vehicle without disability tags or license in a designated disability parking space. The fine for Montgomery County is $250.
  • The individual who was issued a placard or plate must be transported in the vehicle for the vehicle to legally park in a designated disability parking space.
  • Parking in a striped area/access aisle adjacent to and between disability spaces is also against the law. Those striped areas allow room for wheelchair lifts to load and unload passengers.
  • Disability parking spaces are located in all parking lots and garages within parking districts for the exclusive use of those with disability tags or placards. Even when vacant, they are never, even for a matter of minutes, for use by anyone else.
  • If you see a vehicle without a disability tag or license plate parked in a designated disability parking space, call the police non-emergency number, 301-279-8000.


Don’t Drink and Drive:

Learn more about the Montgomery County Police Holiday Alcohol Task Force at: https://buff.ly/2QZzYMK.

 

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Release ID: 18-748
Media Contact: Lucille.Baur@montgomerycountymd.gov or 240-777-6507