Pedestrian Injuries

One stretch of Route 1 in College Park, Maryland, has become deadly for University of Maryland students trying to cross the four-lane highway. Within the past ten months there have been four serious pedestrian traffic accidents there, two of them fatal, prompting the President of the University to write an online letter to the community on April 23, 2014, asking for suggestions on how to make the area safer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States there is one crash-related pedestrian death every 2 hours and a pedestrian injury every 8 minutes. Oftentimes the accident involves alcohol use, by either the driver or the pedestrian. Here’s how the most recent UMD accidents occurred:

On Friday, January 17, 2014, 22-year-old Cory Hubbard was crossing Baltimore Avenue at U.S. 1 near Knox Road around 2 a.m. when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver, who eventually turned himself in. Hubbard was not in a crosswalk. News accounts at the time said he had been drinking in one of the nearby neighborhood bars and was walking back to his car.

On Friday, April 11, 2014, 23-year-old Carlos Pacanins was killed at the same intersection around 10:30 p.m. He was in a crosswalk, but the “Don’t Walk” signal was flashing. Carlos later died of his injuries.

On Saturday, April 19, 2014, despite increased police presence and an educational initiative, a man was struck by a vehicle around 12:30 a.m. as he attempted to cross the highway near the intersection of Knox Road and Route 1. He reportedly had been bounced from an area bar and was not using a crosswalk.

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What’s the answer for this college community? According to UMD President Loh, the university, the City of College Park and Prince George’s County will be implementing the following actions:

  • More intensive policing, especially on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights and until 3:30 a.m. Officers will issue warnings to jaywalkers and those intoxicated in public. Drunk driving and distracted driving laws will be strictly enforced.
  • They will be launching the “Street Smart” campaign to promote awareness and responsibility, encouraging students to look out for each other and to stop jaywalking and talking on a cell phone while crossing the street.
  • The State Highway Administration will be making an audit of Route 1 to identify permanent changes. In the meantime, the City and University want the speed limit lowered to 25 mph, installation of flashing red lights at key intersections, better lighting, and median strip barriers to discourage jaywalking.

As a Maryland personal injury lawyer, my experience includes seeking compensation for people who have been hit while walking, riding a bicycle, or traveling by motorcycle. Yes, everyone who uses the roads – whether on foot or in a vehicle – shares responsibility for safely getting from here to there. Sometimes only through a dogged investigation can it be determined where the fault for the injury lies and which parties can be held liable for the suffering and expenses incurred. If a pedestrian in your family was hit by a motor vehicle, call Steve Heisler, The Injury Lawyer, at (877) 228-HURT (4878).