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Pedestrian accidents on rise

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Published on: Thursday, March 28, 2013

By Donna Broadway

ROCKVILLE- During the first three months of 2013, there were 13 pedestrian accidents—five of which ended in deaths. This implies an average of one pedestrian accident per week.

Since 2003, there have been nearly 140 pedestrian fatalities in Montgomery County.

In an effort to address these collisions, the Pedestrian Safety Initiative has identified nine High Impact Areas (HIAs) in the county. When an area is identified as a high impact, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation and the Maryland State Highway Association prioritize it for improvements such as widened sidewalks, installed pedestrian signals and improved street lighting.

•    Colesville Road and North Noyes Road: a third mile stretch of road in Silver Spring. Almost 30 pedestrian collisions have happened on this road segment since 2007. On March 13, 75-year-old John Skelton Williams became the latest to be involved in a pedestrian accident at this location.

•    Connecticut Avenue from Georgia Avenue to Independence Street in Aspen Hill. Since 2005, 23 pedestrians have been hit while crossing this street, including three fatalities.

•    Colesville Road and University Boulevard in Silver Spring: known as ‘four corners.’ This high traffic area is densely populated with a school, major commuter routes, and a high reliance on transportation. This is a road with a speed limit of 40 miles per hour. Between 2004 and 2008, there were 14 pedestrian crashes.

•    Georgia Avenue between Spring Street and Sligo Avenue in Silver Spring: a high traffic area with a major commuter route and a high reliance on public transportation. From 2003 to 2007, there were 35 pedestrian crashes—25 occurred at an intersection, and 10 occurred between intersections.

•    Piney Branch Road from Flower Avenue to the Montgomery-Prince George’s County line in Silver Spring. Densely populated with four Ride-On routes and one WMATA route and ten bus stops in each direction.  There were 26 pedestrian crashes between 2003 and 2007.

•    Randolph Road from Selfridge Road and Colie Drive in the Wheaton-Glenmont area. From 2004 to 2008, a total of 123 vehicular crashes, 13 pedestrian, and two bicyclist crashes were reported in the study area. This is another area with a high reliance on public transportation.

•    Reedie Drive between Selfridge Road and Colie Drive. Between 2004 and 2008, a total of 114 vehicular crashes and 14 pedestrian crashes were reported in the study area. No bicyclist crashes were reported during the study period. This is a high commuter area with a high reliance on public transportation.

•    Rockville Pike from Hubbard Drive to Halpine Road. From 2003 to 2007, there were 22 pedestrian and bicyclist collisions with a high number involving elderly pedestrians. The Twinbrook Metro station is also located on this road.

•    Wisconsin Avenue from Cordell Avenue to Leland Street in Bethesda. There were 29 pedestrian collisions between 2003 and 2007. This is a major commuter route with a high reliance on public transportation.

According to Esther Bowring from the Montgomery County public information office, the county is working with the state to identify more high impact areas.

“We believe we are, in fact, making Montgomery County more pedestrian friendly,” Bowring stated. “That being said, we don’t think the job is done yet and we are working diligently to make Montgomery County a pedestrian safe community.”

The department is combating the pedestrian accidents with high fines for drivers and pedestrians ranging from $50-$500 and the State’s Attorney may hand down criminal penalties for drivers at fault in a pedestrian collision, authorities say. According to Robert Ladany from the Montgomery County Police Department, they will also be implementing pedestrian stings again.  

“We will be having officers in bright colored shirts crossing in marked cross walks not at intersections, but near bus stops and other locations,” Ladany said. “Our focus will be stopping vehicles for failing to yield.”

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