Officials Encourage Crosswalk Safety

By Lori Wysong
Elm Staff Writer

On Dec. 22, 2017, Frank Harold Amling, 76, was fatally struck by a car at the corner of Hadaway Drive and Washington Avenue.  This was the only fatal crash of 2017 in Kent County.

In response to Amling’s fatal accident, Bob Rager, district community liaison for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said, “Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family.  Mr. Amling was well-known to many MDOT SHA employees as his wife, Carol, had worked at our Chestertown office.”

When he first heard the news, Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino was “very saddened.”

“During my 25 years of living in Chestertown and Kent County, I can thankfully say that serious accidents involving motorists and pedestrians are pretty uncommon,” he said.

Still, Cerino and Bill Ingersoll, Chestertown’s town manager, said that most accidents involving pedestrians occur at the intersection of Washington Avenue (or Route 213), and other, smaller, roads.

“These are state roads and the State Highway Administration has jurisdiction over safety features such as stoplights, pedestrian walkways, and related signage,” Cerino said.

The desire to prevent future accidents led the Chestertown community to conduct a task force in 2015, under the supervision of the SHA. The report included many recommendations to the SHA. It called for the improvement of existing crosswalks and sidewalks, as well as the installation of new ones at the intersections of Route 213 and Cross Street and Route 213 and Campus Avenue, where Washington College students have been hit by cars in 2015 and in 2017.

Ingersoll said, “[SHA’s] policy is that this type of community task force action must take place before they will consider action.  Since that time, the SHA has taken no action that we know of on the issues presented.”

Following the most recent accident involving a WC student, officials from the College brought forth suggestions at a Town Council meeting in November.

“The Council provided them with a public forum for their presentation of the issues and forwarded their written recommendations and requests to the SHA as soon as they were received,” Ingersoll said.

According to Rager, traffic engineers from the SHA are following standard procedure.  After a police investigation is completed, they will “review the final police report, analyze historical crash data for this location, and assess site conditions to determine if any improvements might be warranted,” he said.

Cerino hopes that, “we will continue to work together to advocate for the safety of both students and residents.”

Until the recommendations of the College and the Town Council are implemented, Cerino said to be cautious.

“Washington Avenue is by far the busiest street in Chestertown, and it lies in close proximity to the College campus. Please take extreme care in crossing this road and be sure to use the existing crosswalks and traffic lights to enhance your own safety.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that pedestrians always wait for vehicles to fully stop before crossing the street, and to only cross at marked crosswalks, intersections, and corners. To prevent accidents, the NHTSA suggests avoiding distractions such as texting, and looking for acknowledgement from drivers such as eye contact or a wave before crossing.

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