SILVER SPRING, Md. — Some area communities have signs at intersections that warn drivers, “Don’t Block the Box.” And Montgomery County, Maryland, could soon join them.
State Sen. Will Smith said he plans to introduce legislation when the state legislative session begins next month that would make it illegal for drivers to block intersections in the county.
“Blocking intersections has been a big problem, especially in downtown Silver Spring during rush hour,” Smith said. “This bill would essentially allow an officer to cite a person who is caught in the intersection blocking the box.”
A ticket for such an offense would be a civil violation — not a criminal one — and would lead to a $100 fine, according to Smith.
Smith listed a few intersections that tend to get blocked during busy times, including Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road; Colesville Road and University Boulevard; and parts of Chevy Chase and Kensington along Connecticut Avenue.
“It’s essentially to increase awareness, pedestrian safety and to keep the flow of traffic going,” Smith said. “In the past year I’ve received no fewer than 15 constituent requests saying, ‘Hey, you’ve got to do something to fix this.'”
Under the legislation, a driver going through a green or yellow light would not be allowed to “enter an intersection if the vehicle is unable to safely and completely proceed through the intersection.”
A police officer would be able to issue a ticket for the offense only if signs were posted at the intersection that warned drivers about blocking the box.
Drivers can be fined for blocking intersections in the District. In Baltimore, a similar law took effect in October, with fines reaching $125.
“To avoid blocking the box, you should wait to enter an intersection until you are sure you can make it all the way through the intersection,” said Baltimore’s Department of Transportation.
“Wait behind the stop bar, not in the crosswalk, and look to see if the vehicles in front of you on the other side of the intersection have left enough room for you to make it through without stopping in the crosswalk on the other side.”