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Speak Out: Three Pedestrian Deaths in Three Weeks

Three pedestrians have been struck and killed within weeks of each other in Montgomery County. What can be done to ensure pedestrian safety?

In a span of just three weeks, three pedestrians have been fatally hit by cars in Montgomery County. Police say the collisions aren't related and that pedestrian deaths have happened "in bunches" in the past. 

Details on the deaths: 

Jan. 22: A 53-year-old Beltsville woman drove her 2002 Mitsubishi Montero onto a sidewalk, hitting Georgina Afful-Asare, 54, of the Briggs Chaney neighborhood Silver Spring. Afful-Asare was taken to the hospital where she died of her injuries.

Feb. 7: Charles Oppong Aboagye, 44, of the White Oak neighborhood of Silver Spring, died after being hit by a Nissa Altima while crossing the southbound lanes of Route 29 at Oak Leaf Drive. A 43-year-old woman from Columbia, MD, was heading south of Route 29 when she hit the man, who witnesses said had tripped while trying to cross the street. 

Feb. 11: A 59-year-old man from Silver Spring was hit by a 2005 Nissan Altima in Aspen Hill and later died of his injuries. Frank Sedwick, of the 1200 block of Downs Drive, was crossing Georgia Avenue from west to east at Heathfield Road in Aspen Hill when the driver, a 24-year-old woman from Virgina, hit him.

Police told Patch that the collisions are under investigation.

"Anytime that three pedestrians lose their life in a short period of time is something that we take seriously," Captain Thomas Didone, director of the traffic division at Montgomery County Police, wrote in an email to Patch.

"The only thing that I see that could be newsworthy is advice to pedestrians to make sure that they have or wear reflective clothing or items when they walk at night to increase their visibility."

Still, after Patch reported the deaths, commenters offered thoughts on why the crashes occur and what could be done to prevent fatalities.

Better lighting at intersections? "The question I have is what can be done about pedestrian safety on Georgia Avenue between Glenmont station and Olney?... The location of the accident is very dark at night, and people often speed through that area. I wonder if better lighting through that whole corridor would make a difference, to make pedestrians easier to spot from a distance," said Ben Schumin.

Reading signage more carefully? "...Pedestrians, under Maryland law, have the right to cross roads ANYWHERE. They must yield to cars ONLY between intersections. I agree that pedestrians often do not observe pedestrian signals at controlled intersections. Neither do motorists or cyclists..." said Ian Cooper. 

Lower speed limits? "...People routinely travel 55 and above right through that stretch [of Route 29]. In addition, there's a lot of darting in and out of lanes," said Kim Cooke.

What do you think? Are these collisions an unfortunate coincidence or is more work needed to ensure pedestrian safety? 

jag February 19, 2013 at 05:26 PM
MDOT has long since made clear their main concern is moving cars as quickly as possible. Their actions cause pedestrian deaths and they're perfectly fine with that trade off of speed being more important than safety and drivers being more important than pedestrians.
Ian Brett Cooper February 20, 2013 at 02:08 PM
Captain Thomas Didone has chosen, as police always seem to do, to blame the victims. While it is a good idea to wear light clothing when crossing roads at night, it is not a legal requirement - NOR SHOULD IT BE. Life would be quite ridiculous if we couldn't even walk around without being lit up like a Christmas Tree. It would be nice if police made some effort to put at least SOME of the blame the people who overwhelmingly cause such accidents - motorists who are either speeding, or distracted by the myriad bells and whistles to be found in today's cars, or who assume they have the right of way when they don't - or all three. Reducing speed limits has been proven to reduce road casualties. It's not as if this is rocket science. regular driver retesting might help too. The problems are, as always, 1: (as Jag says) getting DOT to institute a system in which safety, not speed, comes first, 2: getting motorists to act responsibly and abide by safer speed limits, and 3, getting the motorist lobby to stop protesting auto-ticketing and increased penalties for offenders.

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