BY TALIB I. KARIM— As the numbers of residents and businesses along Route 1 (Baltimore Avenue) increase, so too have the volume of traffic accidents.  In the seven days between Nov. 15 and 22, Arts District residents posted on Facebook about three collisions.  In one instance, a driver ran a red light and slammed into another car.  After the collision, the reckless driver literally climbed out his car window and fled the scene, one eyewitness said.

Accidents have become commonplace along Hyattsville’s share of the busy U.S. Route 1.  In Maryland, Route 1 spans over 80 miles, starting in Mount Rainier and ending near Pennsylvania in Rising Sun.

The street’s role as a major interstate artery is a key factor in Hyattsville’s traffic woes, according to Yanira Castro, owner of the Tire Place. Castro’s business is located at Baltimore Avenue and Jefferson Street, and has been in operation for more than 15 years.  As such, Castro’s seen her share of accidents on Route 1. Castro recounts the day a vehicle crashed into the neighboring car wash striking one customer and two car wash employees. The driver of the car was “cut off” by another driver who abruptly changed lanes while driving down Route 1, apparently southbound, said Castro. “People don’t have patience to wait and…will cut you off”

Enforcement is key, said Castro. She notes new, larger signs installed along Route 1. However, Castro said, “What’s the use of having traffic signs if there is no [police] enforcement. Often time I have to shout at drivers to slow down.”

This sentiment is shared by Melissa Tyner, of Selay Hair & Nails, an Arts District salon located on Route 1. Tyner said, “[Speed cameras] would keep people from speeding.”

The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA), previously announced new crosswalks on Baltimore Avenue at Jefferson and Madison Streets, and a left turn signal southbound at Jefferson Street.  

Additionally, on Nov. 23, Maryland State Delegate Alonzo Washington (D-22), led a SHA tour of problem areas along Route 1. Officials walked from Oglethorpe Street to Charles Armentrout Drive observing traffic and discussing sidewalks, crossings and other potential issues along the stretch.

New safety measures can’t come soon enough for Emily Bond, mother of two who lives on Baltimore Avenue. “My biggest fear is that…a car or truck will careen into my house…[yet] we love our community and believe that [it] will prevail in making Hyattsville…truly walkable.”