INDIAN HEAD, Md. — With fewer people on the road because of the pandemic, you might think the death toll from traffic crashes would go down. But that’s far from the case on a notorious stretch of Prince George’s County highway.
Seven people have already died this year on Indian Head Highway, and five of them were pedestrians.
A new analysis from AAA Mid-Atlantic finds that twice as many people have died on Indian Head highway this year than all of last year, and it's only October. Five pedestrians were killed in just a two-month stretch this year.
For those who’ve lost loved ones on Route 210, the pain will likely never subside. Juana Mejia’s three children were killed by a drunk driver late in 2018.
“We’re still stuck on that same day,” Mejia said last year, her voice breaking.
County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced a major speed and drunk driving enforcement effort after that crash, "to make sure no other family members or parent loses their life on this road."
Her initiative may have helped lower the death toll in 2019 to just three.
But now it’s climbing again.
On Oct. 4, a 56-year-old pedestrian was killed, while a 39-year-old pedestrian lost their life on Sept. 4. In August, three others were killed, including a 16-year-old Woodbridge High School student.
AAA says speeding is a huge problem on the road. Between January and mid-September, 414 drivers were caught by speed cameras traveling over 100 miles an hour; one was going 143 and another was clocked at 161 mph.
Nearly 500 drivers were caught going over 90 mph, 1,400 over 80 mph and more than 10,000 were driving in excess of 70 mph.
"When you travel Indian Head Highway, you're taking your life, literally, into your own hands," John Townsend of AAA Mid-Atlantic said.
October is National Pedestrian Safety Month. But after years of trying, it’s far from clear what it will take to make anyone safe on the dangerous stretch of road.
"We have noticed increased speeds on MD-210 and other roadways during recent periods of lower traffic volumes," Sherrie Christian of the Maryland State Highway Administration said in an email. "MDOT SHA traffic engineers have made enhancements and upgrades in lighting and signage along MD-210, and our law enforcement partners have conducted focused enforcement along the highway. As we and our partners work to make the road safer, we implore motorists to slow down and obey the speed limit."
Because it is a state highway, local officials said even getting a new speed camera installed on Indian Head Highway requires an act of the state legislature.