UMD Responds to Route 1 Traffic Accidents

Here is the message UMD president sent in response to recent tragic incidents on Route 1.

April 23, 2014

Dear University of Maryland community:

Four serious pedestrian traffic accidents — two of them fatal, all within 10 months — call for urgent action. The anguish of the victims’ grieving family and friends is heart-wrenching. The Diamondback calls the area around Knox Road “the deadliest stretch of Route 1.” This must change.

The latest accident happened amid a heavy, increased presence of campus and county police in that area. They handed out over 400 safety flyers and conducted 43 field stops. Even that was not enough to prevent this accident.

The University, the City of College Park, and Prince George’s County have joined to implement the following actions to improve pedestrian safety:

1) More intensive policing. Campus and county police will be out in force and highly visible on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights until 3:30 AM. Police cars will be parked with flashing red lights on Route 1, next to key intersections, to slow traffic and encourage pedestrians to use crosswalks. Officers will issue warnings to jaywalkers and those intoxicated in public. Drunk driving and distracted driving laws will be strictly enforced.

2) Educational safety campaigns. The University will work closely with local businesses and student groups to increase personal awareness of, and responsibility for, pedestrian safety. We will launch next week the “Street Smart” campaign. Look out for friends who need help. Do not jaywalk at night, or cross a street while glued to a cell phone. Reduce your car speed by just 5 miles per hour, because it can make the difference between hospitalization and death in case of an accident.

3) Physical changes. The State Highway Administration has authority over Route 1. It is undertaking a “pedestrian safety audit” that will take some months to complete. The city mayor and I have written to, and asked to meet with, the head of this agency to recommend that swift and provisional actions be taken while this audit unfolds. These include: lower the speed limit to 25 mph; have flashing red lights at key intersections to make all vehicles come to a full stop; install better lighting and pedestrian signals that flash and count down; and erect median strip barriers to discourage jaywalking.

We must all work together to make College Park safer for pedestrians, especially on weekend nights. I welcome your suggestions: president@umd.edu or on Twitter @presidentloh.


Wallace D. Loh
President, University of Maryland

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