"It is only matter of time before we have a serious accident," Westland Middle School Principal Danny Vogelman said, reading the first sentence of a letter dated several years ago from a file he keeps about traffic safety concerns surrounding his school. The file has letters dating to 1999 from school and community members expressing concerns to county and state agencies about the safety of children walking on roads surrounding the school, at 5511 Massachusetts Ave., and requesting traffic improvements, Vogelman said. A decade after those first letters in the file, a 13-year-old girl was struck by a vehicle while she was in a crosswalk on Massachusetts and Westbard avenues around 5:30 p.m. Sept. 13, Montgomery County police spokeswoman Blanca Kling said. The driver hit the girl when he went around a sport utility vehicle stopped at the crosswalk.
"Even though she is not one of our children, an accident did occur," said Vogelman, who said more than 100 of the school's more than 1,000 students walk to and from school.
The girl, a student at the nearby Thomas W. Pyle Middle School, was taken to Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., with serious injuries. The driver was charged with failure to use caution to avoid pedestrian collision, Kling said. The girl is recovering, said Pyle Principal Jennifer Webster. The collision has prompted schools, churches and others to renew their requests for crossing guards and other safety improvements to the busy road.
In a half mile stretch surrounding the crash site, there were 28 vehicle accidents, 13 of which resulted in injury and 15 of which were property damage only, from September 2006 through September 2009, police said. In a one-week study in May, the area found 6.3 percent of 53,093 vehicles traveled 12-20 miles per hour over the 35 miles per hour speed limit, and .15 percent traveled more than 20 miles per hour over the limit, according to the police Automated Traffic Enforcement Unit. SOURCE: Gazette