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3 Deaths Prompt Pedestrian Safety Concerns on U.S. 1

University of Maryland and College Park officials push for change on U.S. 1 to improve pedestrian safety.

University of Maryland and College Park officials push for change on U.S. 1 to improve pedestrian safety. Credit: Screenshot from WJZ Video
University of Maryland and College Park officials push for change on U.S. 1 to improve pedestrian safety. Credit: Screenshot from WJZ Video
More warning signs have been posted and lights have been changed to give pedestrians more time to safely cross U.S. 1 in College Park after three pedestrians, including two students, were struck by drivers in fatal accidents in 2014.

But University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh wants more done, and soon. He will meet with State Highway Administration administrator Melinda Peters on Tuesday to discuss speeding up the process for change, as well as seeking a lower speed limit for the road, brighter street lights and more traffic signals.

It’s common for University of Maryland students to jaywalk across the road, according to the Baltimore Sun. Students are accustomed to drivers stopping for students on campus.

The news outlet reports University of Maryland and College Park officials are working to improve pedestrian safety and change the mentality.

“We cannot have more deaths and injuries of young people,” Loh told The Baltimore Sun.

Janelle Marie Oni, 21, of Randallstown was the latest pedestrian struck in a fatal accident on U.S. 1. On July 5, Prince George’s County Police Department responded to a call around 3 a.m. of a hit-and-run, Patch previously reported.

Oni was crossing Route 1 near Hartwick Avenue, according to WJZ.

Patrol officers stopped a minivan matching the suspect’s vehicle, Patch reports. Jacky Luangraj, 33, of Manassas, VA, was driving with twice the legal blood alcohol level. He was arrested and faces 13 charges, including negligent auto homicide - under influence, driving under the influence and reckless endangerment.

“She was a human being and he just hit her and left,” Oni’s mother, Ana Burnett told WJZ. ”You don’t even do that to an animal. People get mad when a dog gets hit. That was my only child. I hope that something changes.”

In January, University of Maryland student, Cory Hubbard, 22, of Westhampton was also struck and killed in a hit-and-run when he tried to cross Baltimore Avenue at Knox Road.

In April, a senior from George Washington University, Carlos Pacanins, 23, of Chevy Chase was struck near the same intersection. He was weeks away from graduation.

Pacanin was crossing near or in a crosswalk when the signal flashed “Don’t Walk,” according to investigators. Alcohol may have been a factor in his actions.

College Park City Councilman Robert W. Day told the Sun the deaths have been “heartbreaking to everybody in College Park.”

“We need to develop a message reaching out to say, ‘Yes, this is a college atmosphere, but we have a major state highway coming through our town,’” Day told the Sun.

Changes already made by the State Highway Administration on U.S. 1 include warning signs for drivers that read “State law -- stop for pedestrian crosswalks” and “Do not block intersection,” “No pedestrian” signs in the median, “No pedestrian crossing” signs along the curbs, repainted crosswalk markings, modified traffic light times -- longer times to cross and shorter wait time for pedestrians, The Baltimore Sun reports.

“It’s terrifying,” Kayleigh Poulsen, a graduate of the University of Maryland and server at local business Cornerstone Grill & Loft told The Sun. “You want to feel safe walking around. You want to feel like people are being smart, especially when they leave our business. . . . At the end of the day, it’s a lot of people; it’s the busiest road in College Park. It’s scary.”'

The Sun reports officials plan to switch to LED traffic lights and install a flashing yellow light to warn pedestrians in the area by fall.

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