The Washington Post

Police crackdown on Maryland Beltway

Maryland state police say they are in the midst of a campaign against bad driving in the D.C. area. Overnight, extra patrols stopped 195 vehicles on the Capital Beltway, state police said. Next week, watch for stepped up enforcement of the High Occupancy Vehicle rules.

The overnight traffic enforcement campaign along the Beltway in Prince George’s County focused on aggressive, drunk, speeding and inattentive drivers, police said. The troopers issued 91 traffic citations for speeding, charged 11 people with driving on suspended or revoked licenses, arrested three on drunk driving charges and arrested one for a drug violation.

They issued citations to three people for aggressive driving and to six for failure to wear seat belts. The troopers also issued 13 safety equipment repair orders to drivers to get their vehicles fixed to stay on the road. There were 115 warnings issued for various traffic offenses, the police said.

In 2009, Ashley Halsey III reported that the Prince George’s portion of the Beltway accounted for 70 percent of the Beltway’s traffic fatalities over three years, even though it makes up less than a third of the Beltway’s total miles. There was no ready explanation for why the Prince George’s portion was so dangerous, Halsey wrote.

It’s not the most heavily traveled nor the most congested part of the Beltway. Some attributed the heavy toll to drivers speeding because congestion is less severe, and the lanes are less bendy than in Montgomery County. See a chart analyzing the Beltway crashes.

On Monday, state police expect to announce a crackdown that will target HOV lane violators next week. The HOV lanes in the Maryland suburbs are along Interstate 270 and Route 50. Drivers frequently complain to me about a lack of enforcement in both areas, but I sympathize with the enforcers because it’s difficult to make traffic stops safely along those lanes.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.


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