Montgomery County

Crews Warn of Crash ‘Hot Spots' Along Stretch of Beltway in Maryland

Montgomery County leaders estimate there have been 60-70 crashes on this stretch of the Beltway since the pandemic started

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Crash "hot spots" have been developing on stretches of the Capital Beltway in Maryland, rescue crews are warning, and these areas are now being targeted to get drivers to slow down.

The main area of concern is a winding stretch between Georgia Avenue and River Road. A crash Sunday night sent seven people to the hospital.

Montgomery County leaders estimate there have been 60 to 70 crashes in that stretch of the Beltway since the pandemic started.

"People appear to be driving faster because they can," said Pete Piringer of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue, noting that traffic has been a little lighter than it usually is.

It's not just the number of crashes that's concerning; it’s also the severity. Images of the crash sites are both shocking and extremely troubling, because it's been a problem even after repeated warnings.

Multiple signs have been put up to warn drivers about all the twists and turns, Piringer said. Drivers of tractor trailers have been specifically told to slow down.

"I think we would like to see more signage because actually, if you are driving too fast, you can't read the signs," Piringer said.

Some drivers said they are well aware of the dangers.

"It's horrible. People are going fast and then they pump on brakes," said driver Tiffaney Seay.

Commuter Angel Paredes described drivers as driving much too fast.

"You always go like 10 over the speed limit, right?" said Paredes. "But still you have people who just pass you, like you feel like you are stopped in the middle of the highway."

When these crashes happen, rescue crews now need more room to operate so they can space apart, and that can mean more lane closures. Rescue crews also tell us that responding to these crashes during the pandemic puts them at greater risk for exposure to the coronavirus.

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