In response to the growing number of pedestrian accident deaths and injuries in Montgomery County, the Action Committee for Transit (ACT) has recently submitted requests to have four of the upcounty’s most dangerous intersections considered for pedestrian safety measures to be implemented. The State Highway Administration (SHA) has recently denied these requests.
The hope is that the SHA would install designated crosswalks at multiple intersections that have been the site of half of the pedestrian accidents that occurred on county roads in 2013.
“We need to think about the upcounty. The population is less, but there are definitely people who walk…and it should be just as important to make it safer for people who walk in upcounty,” ACT member Miriam Schoenbaum said.
Why have requests been denied?
According to David Buck, a spokesman for the SHA, the reasons can be found in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Simply looking at the number of individuals crossing a street and the number of pedestrian accidents that occur there cannot be the sole factors in determining where to put crosswalks. Crash history, speed limits, road surface design, sight distance, and distance to another intersection are also among the factors to consider in such cases.
Presently, the state and county have said that the intersections in questions are not necessarily suitable for crosswalks to be put in place. The belief is that, if crosswalks would be painted on the roadways, pedestrians would have a false sense of security when crossing at those places. However, the belief is that pedestrians would be safer walking to another nearby intersection to cross.
Two of the intersections listed in the dispute are Germantown Road/118 near Wisteria Drive and the I-270 interchange, and Muddy Branch road near the Muddy Branch Shopping Center, located in Gaithersburg. Seven of the 14 total pedestrian deaths that have occurred on county roads this year, have happened at these two locations.
Schoenbaum stated that, according to Maryland law, every legal intersection is a crosswalk, regardless of whether or not there are lines painted there. “Legally, you are allowed to cross there and drivers have to stop for you.”
Exercise Caution at All Times
In the meantime, we’d like to urge pedestrians throughout Montgomery County to always exercise extreme caution whenever crossing any intersection, regardless of whether crosswalks are painted there or not. Though you can’t predict what every motorist will do, you can help prevent these types of accidents by remembering to be careful crossing streets. When you’re in doubt, just remember that, “If You Don’t Know, Don’t Go.”
To receive legal advice about your Montgomery County pedestrian accident case, contact Lewis & Tompkins today at 202-296-0666.
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