Too many Ocean City visitors are throwing caution to the wind and darting into traffic without looking. Even still, Ocean City Police Department Spokesman Mike Levy said you almost have to be hit by a vehicle to be charged with jaywalking in Maryland.
The headlines are the same every year: “Pedestrian struck on Coastal Highway.” Some accidents are fatal and some aren’t, but officials believe the majority could be prevented.
According to OCPD statistics, there were 44 pedestrian accidents in Ocean City in 2012, two of which were fatal. That compares to 27 accidents in 2011 (no fatalities) and 35 in 2010 (one fatal).
So far this year, 11 pedestrian accidents have occurred in the resort. That number was the same this time last year.
In Maryland, pedestrians do not always have the right-of-way, but motorists are required to do everything they can to avoid a pedestrian whether that person is in the right or wrong, Levy said.
Pedestrians caught in the roadway can face many different charges. In May, a Pennsylvania man walking against a traffic signal at 49th Street and Coastal Highway was hit by a car and later charged with "unsafely crossing the roadway."
But to be issued a ticket for jaywalking, Levy said a pedestrian must be crossing in an area where there are two streets side-by-side controlled by traffic devices. In Ocean City, there are only eight such locations.
This year, the Town of Ocean City has partnered with the State Highway Administration to launch the Walk Smart Campaign. The goal of this massive undertaking - which involves restriping roadways, posting new signage and increasing law enforcement efforts - is to motivate people to use crosswalks.
Levy said hundreds of officers work to keep Coastal Highway safe. While some visitors don’t think to look before they cross, Levy said he’s confident the new Walk Smart Campaign will be a constant reminder of the potential danger.
“Most people use the crosswalk already,” Levy said. “The ones who don’t are the ones you read about in our press releases.”