Safety improvements coming to Indian Head Highway, officials say

FORT WASHINGTON, Md. — Residents who live along Md. Route 210, Indian Head Highway, are being told that safety improvements are coming, to reduce the high number of collisions and fatalities along the speed-plagued, crash-prone roadway.

According to Maryland State Highway figures, there were 1,466 crashes, six of them fatal, along the 21-mile long highway in the first eight months of this year.

“In the upcoming months … we’re going to continue to focus on traffic safety enforcement: speeding, distracted driving, Move Over Law, other simple things, seat belt enforcement to try to get the collisions down,” said Captain Dan Pickett, commander of the Maryland State Police Washington Metro Troop. The Washington Metro Troop includes the Rockville, College Park and Forestville barracks.

Several factors are blamed for the high number of crashes, especially the high-speed highway’s numerous intersections where many of the crashes occur.

“Thirty-nine percent of all the crashes were really around the intersections,” said Gregory Slater, administrator of MDOT’s State Highway Administration.

John Townsend, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s manager of public affairs, says that the opening of MGM National Harbor has increased traffic on Indian Head Highway and made the road “a speedway” for motorists and motorcyclists.

“We know, ultimately, that we’re going to need more grade-separated interchanges, meaning overpasses and limited access into and off of that interchange,” said Pete Rahn, Maryland secretary of transportation.

Rahn is recommending that Prince George’s County use tax dollars generated from the MGM National Harbor Casino to speed up construction of Route 210 interchanges.

The highway has been under increased enforcement since September by State Police and Prince George’s County police. Has it helped?

“Absolutely, I see drivers and I get reports of people seeing that traffic has slowed down considerably during this extra enforcement time,” said Ron Weiss, board member of the Indian Head Highway Area Action Council.

Major James Keleti with Prince George’s County police said that through a partnership with Maryland State Police, officials have issues 3,400 citations on Indian Head Highway.

Forty-one percent of the crashes this year on Indian Head Highway occurred at night, 10 percent higher than the statewide average for nighttime crashes, according to the State Highway Administration.

“This upcoming week, we’re going to go down 210 and we’re going to find out which lights are not working,” said Pickett.

Rahn also agreed that lighting has to be addressed. He says the state highway safety director and traffic engineer will review all the lighting on the highway to identify areas that needed to be brightened.

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