Montgomery County looks to predict, prevent traffic crashes

Montgomery County, Maryland, is taking a new approach to not only prevent, but actually predict deadly traffic crashes.

The county just approved the use of a Predictive Safety Analysis tool to search for high risk driving areas before a crash occurs.

Instead of only focusing on roads where frequent accidents happen and ways to make them safer, the project will identify stretches of road with similar characteristics to the accident-prone ones, identifying roads with high risk of future collisions before they occur.

“The approach will estimate crash rates for each road segment and intersection in the county,” planning department transportation supervisor David Anspacher said during a board meeting on Thursday.

The county board approved the new approach, which is expected to take one year to complete. The projected cost is $250,000, based on prior use of the tool in Seattle, Washington.

The county has a goal of eliminating serious traffic-related injuries and deaths by 2030. So far this year, at least three pedestrians have been killed on county roads.

During the board’s discussion of the new accident-prevention approach, Anspacher said the county’s road network was designed for fast travel, not pedestrian safety.

“There needs to be a lot of engineering changes. We really need to make it so that people cannot go fast,” he said.

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