Deadly Accident Brings Attention to a Dangerous Roadway

WASHINGTON — After a fatal crash on the Indian Head Highway early Friday, two observers say it’s time for a change of rules and attitudes on what one calls “the most dangerous roadway” in the area.

Two men were killed after investigators said one of them drove down the wrong side of the highway in Fort Washington, Maryland. The Prince George’s County police said two cars collided head-on at about 2:30 a.m. Friday in the southbound lanes just north of Palmer Road. The crash shut down traffic for hours in both directions Friday morning.

John Townsend, spokesman for AAA mid-Atlantic, said the road has claimed 19 lives in the past four years.

“It’s the most dangerous roadway in the Washington metro area,” Townsend said. He believes there needs to be more enforcement on the highway. It’s straight, with few hills, he said, and that contributes to drivers’ tendency to speed.

Reverend Dr. Robert L. Screen is the chaplain for the Fort Washington Medical Center, on Livingston Road just off the Indian Head Highway. He said he’s written lawmakers and police for years to try to inspire some change.

Screen said speeding is one thing, but the number of drivers who travel on the wrong side of the road highlights the importance of driver responsibility, said.

“It’s nothing less than foolishness. It’s nothing less than bad choices that could be better made if we had the proper respect that needs to be directed toward this highway,” said Screen.

Prince George’s County police data show that last year, 3,663 drivers were pulled over along Indian Head Highway. This year, as of June 30, 2,049 drivers have been pulled over.

“We do certainly have specific enforcement on Indian Head Highway. Through the last several years, we have increased enforcement activity on Indian Head Highway,” said Cpl. Tyler Hunter.

Screen said it comes down to the community following the rules of the road — consistently.

“There will be some dedicated people for maybe two weeks maybe a month, but after that period it disappears for a month until the next fatality and we go over the same routine,” he said. “When you talk about changing the culture, it has to be a sustained effort.”

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