With all the coverage of Beltway gridlock and storms, one might suppose that jammed traffic and precipitation were the major culprits for fatal car crashes on the major highway system surrounding our nation’s capitol. However, evidence tends to suggest that weather is not a major factor in fatal Beltway crashes. Fifty-three of the 58 fatal accidents between 2007 and 2009 occurred under clear skies. According to news reports in the Washington Examiner, congestion may have played a part in some accidents. Twenty-two of the fatal crashes involved more than one vehicle.
What was surprising to Maryland, Virginia and DC car crash lawyer Doug Landau of the Herndon Law Firm ABRAMS LANDAU, was that most of the lethal crashes were single-car accidents. This statistic suggests that fast speeding drivers, intoxicated motorists, drunk drivers, distracted drivers — those talking on the phone while driving, for instance — and motorists who are just plain weary are the chief cause of accidents. This conclusion is supported by the information from Virginia’s Highway Safety Office. Furthermore, most fatal accidents occurred between midnight and 4 a.m., the traffic data show.
Data indicate that while the number of accidents each year has slightly declined, fatalities and injuries on the Beltway remained steady from 2000 to 2009. I-495 averaged 2,876 crashes each year in the time span, with 2,878 crashes in 2009, down from the 3,191 that occurred on the highway in 2000. However, an average of 18 deaths occurred on the road each year, including 20 in 2009, up from the 13 that occurred in 2000. In 2009, Maryland law enforcement officials began taking an aggressive approach. The state police reorganized enforcement efforts by placing more officers on the highway between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Thursday to Sunday, times when records show fatal crashes most often occur. The targeted enforcement shows signs of success. Police reported only three fatalities on the Beltway in Prince George’s in 2010.