Prince George’s County Police welcomed suggestions during a community discussion Monday on how to improve safety along Route 210, a treacherous stretch of highway in the county’s southern portion notorious for drag racing and high-speed driving.
Among the recommendations presented at the Prince George’s County Police Department’s District VII station in Fort Washington to improve safety on Route 210, also known as Indian Head Highway, were more police presence and enforcement, roving speed cameras and a safety slogan.
Another idea suggested drivers stopped for speeding face a $500 fine on the first offense, $1,000 for a second violation and license revocation on the third infraction.
“No one likes an increase in traffic violation fines, but I really don’t care,” said state Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-District 26) of Accokeek. “We are losing too many lives.”
AAA Mid-Atlantic labeled the highway the most dangerous road in the Washington metropolitan area based on the number of crashes and fatalities. The road stretches about 20 miles near the D.C. border in Forest Heights to the town of Indian Head in Charles County.
AAA spokesman John Townsend II said most of the highway goes straight, which some drivers use to speed.
The road made national headlines in February 2008, when eight people died after a car crashed into a crowd watching an illegal drag race near the intersection of Route 210 and Pine Lane Road in Accokeek. And at the same intersection in June, James Hill, 67, was killed when his minivan was struck by a vehicle police say may have been involved in a drag race.
“We are talking about people making choices,” said the Rev. Robert L. Screen of Accokeek, who led Monday’s discussion. “We are dealing with a public that does not respect the law. We need enforcement to remind people driving is not a right, it’s a privilege.”
Capt. Jim Keleti, who began working at the District VII station a few weeks ago, said the department wrote slightly more than 3,600 citations last year. About 2,800 have been written this year, he said.
During a recent seven-hour period in the day, Keleti said police pulled over 49 vehicles on Route 210 and clocked the average speed of 78 miles per hour. He said he plans to meet with state police officials Tuesday to review an operation to increase enforcement and safety along Indian Head Highway.
Richard Jackson of Fort Washington asked when the last traffic evaluation was conducted along the highway. Muse said in 2011, when he said he asked state officials for the road to be a main priority before construction of major businesses such as Tanger Outlets at National Harbor.
Today, residents experience major traffic and see constant speeding on the highway. Ongoing construction continues at Indian Head Highway and Kerby Hill/Livingston roads in Oxon Hill.
“I have seen the changes,” said Jackson, who has lived in Fort Washington for 35 years. “You have to watch it. On the weekends, you have to watch it because people drive fast. I hope that [construction] does resolve the bottleneck because it impacts all the feeder roads that are all backed up.”
Screen, who heads a nonprofit organization called the River Jordan Project, said another meeting will be held Oct. 16 to provide updates in Fort Washington.