The boy that was struck by a woman driving her car near the intersection of Wisconsin and 33rd St. died yesterday. This has lead at least one news source to question whether that intersection is safe without traffic lights or stop signs.
The question of who is more at fault for the tragedy has not been publicly answered. WJLA has eye witness reports that the child ran into the street and was not crossing at the crosswalk. A woman claims, however, that the driver wasn’t paying attention and was using her cellphone, although it’s not clear whether this source saw the accident first-hand.
Either way, a tragedy has occurred in Georgetown. It seems indisputable to GM that the design of the intersection played some role in the collision. It is an intersection in the middle of a long stretch of road without a light or sign controlling Wisconsin Ave. traffic.
But any attempt to install a light at the intersection would likely be faced with opposition. Why? Because of what happened just a few feet away when DDOT installed a light at Reservoir Rd. and Wisconsin. Namely, it induced traffic onto Reservoir Rd. just west of Wisconsin that was otherwise discouraged from using that road by the difficulty of turning left onto Wisconsin.
33rd St. already gets a lot of northbound traffic from drivers attempting to avoid congestion on Wisconsin. This congestion is discouraged somewhat by the perceived difficulty of turning onto northbound Wisconsin. Adding a light would change that.
Is opposition from residents of 33rd st. a good enough reason from adding a light at that intersection? GM thinks not, if traffic engineers conclude that a lighted traffic crossing is the best way to increase the safety of that intersection.
But Georgetown has more than one dangerous crosswalk without traffic lights or stop signs. Including:
- Volta and Wisconsin
- P and Wisconsin
- O and Wisconsin
- Grace and Wisconsin
- South St. and Wisconsin
Should we install a light at each of these intersections? Probably not, but how about a stop sign? GM thinks we should. He can speak from experience that it is intimidating attempting to cross Wisconsin without a traffic light or stop sign. Knowing that a stop sign is there to reinforce the notion that the car shouldn’t just cruise through the intersection would be comforting. (Notice the first clip in the piece above: a car honking at a pedestrian for crossing legally. That’s the attitude we have to deal with.)
What do you think? Is there something else we can learn from this tragedy?