CommunityWilliam J. Ford

Prince George’s Lawmaker Launches Safe-Driving Initiative

LaNia Mitchell pledged not to text, speed, drive aggressively and incorporate other safety measures as a motorist and passenger inside a vehicle.

“I will always wear my seat belt and ask others in the car with me to buckle up,” said the Oxon Hill High School senior. “Everyone’s safety, including my own, will be my priority.”

Mitchell stood alongside county officials and residents inside her school Friday, March 22 to promote the “#DrivingItHome” campaign to improve driver safety in Prince George’s County led by Councilwoman Monique Anderson-Walker (D-District 8) of Fort Washington.

The initiative was spurred by numerous vehicle crashes, thousands of citations and traffic stops investigated and conducted on Route 210, known as one of the most dangerous roads in the region.

Police made 70 traffic-related arrests last year along 210, also known as Indian Head Highway, which stretches nearly 21 miles from the District border in Oxon Hill through neighboring Charles County. In the past seven months, several fatal crashes occurred on the road, including one last month in Accokeek.

So far this year, police have issued more than 3,700 citations and 18 DUI arrests along Route 210.

Anderson-Walker’s campaign aims to change drivers’ habits by targeting six areas: seat belt use, texting and driving, driver distractions, drunk driving, highway speeds and aggressive driving.

The announcement also came exactly one year after Samira Jenkins, 24, was struck and killed by a vehicle near Route 210 and Kerby Hill Road in Oxon Hill while waiting to catch a bus for a job interview.

“We have way too many accidents and way too many losses of life,” Anderson-Walker said. “We decided to start this campaign because the county believes this is an issue that needs to be addressed.”

To ensure young people are involved in #DrivingItHome, Anderson-Walker said a friendly competition will involve the four high schools in the 26th legislative district — Oxon Hill, Potomac, Friendly and Crossland. She visited Friendly High School before the formal announcement at Oxon Hill.

The student with the most “likes” from the campaign on social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram will receive Beats headphones.

“But not allowed to wear them when driving,” Anderson-Walker added.

Mitchell, the student government association president at Oxon Hill, will contact her fellow SGA members at other schools to push the campaign throughout the school year.

“We will also be in contact with Crossland and Potomac to make sure this initiative begins here [in the 26th Legislative District] and then spreads,” she said.

Although the county police patrol the highway, Route 210 is a state road and approvals for speed cameras and other infrastructure must go before the Maryland General Assembly and other state agencies.

The House of Delegates passed legislation March 18 for the county to install no more than three cameras, formally called speed monitoring systems, along the highway.

Before they are installed, the county must publish a notice on its website and newspaper of general circulation and indicate its use within a school zone. Businesses, trees and some residences are near the highway.

The bill also requests the State Highway Administration and county’s Department of Public Works and Transportation to examine Route 210 on solutions to combat motor vehicle crashes, injuries and fatalities. A report should be provided to the governor and General Assembly by May 31, 2021.

A hearing on the bill will take place Thursday, March 28 before the Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Del. Kris Valderrama (D-District 26) of Fort Washington sponsored legislation last year to install a camera facing southbound at Route 210 and Old Fort Road near the Livingston Square shopping center in Fort Washington.

“There was enough support to show this is a very serious issue and no one was going to back down,” she said. “We put in the work, but we’re not done yet.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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