With an average of one accident every 9.6 days, the intersection of Rossville Boulevard and Route 7 near Golden Ring Mall heads the Intrepid Commuter's annual list of the Baltimore area's most dangerous crossings.
Our list of "hot corners" is based on a recently completed State Highway Administration analysis of accident patterns along state highways for 1991. The study compares the number of accidents reported at the 15,500 intersections against the number of vehicles each handles.
The Rosedale crossing was the site of 38 accidents in 1991. It was the most accident-prone of any Baltimore-area intersection for that year.
Loyal readers will recall that the Intrepid Commuter published a list last year based on 1990 data. They may even recognize some repeat offenders: the Route 100 and Quarterfield Road interchange in Glen Burnie and, in Ellicott City, the intersections of U.S. 40 and Rogers Avenue and of Montgomery Road and Old Columbia Pike.
Engineers already have begun studying traffic at the Route 7 intersection, as well as accident records, to see why so many collisions occur there. So far, they haven't a clue.
"There's nothing you can put your finger on," says Mickey Sheridan, a state traffic engineer. "When we get the study done, we'll find out if there's anything we can do."
The study is expected to take two or three months.
Two highway construction projects planned for this year and next may offer some relief. The widening of U.S. 40 from the Beltway to Rossville Boulevard is expected to siphon some traffic off Route 7, and the realignment of Route 7 north of Rossville Boulevard should help the traffic flow.
In Anne Arundel County, the top three all involve Quarterfield Road in Glen Burnie. The agency also is looking at the problems there. One upgrade is already on the way: The flashing light at the Route 100 ramp will be replaced by a full-fledged traffic signal by the end of the month.
Common courtesy: a Baltimore rarity?
The recent snowfall reminded us of the importance of courtesy in deterring accidents. When streets were reduced to one lane, we frequently observed the matador approach to safe driving: Pull over and let the oncoming car pass.
Also our heart warmed to see so many people helping their fellow commuters stuck in the snow.
But we also witnessed some entirely unbecoming behavior. The weather didn't seem to matter to some drivers who don't think twice about running red lights, weaving through traffic or double-parking.
And some pedestrians foolishly walked in the street rather than slog through slush on the sidewalk.
Such irresponsible behavior doesn't impress reader Ellen Apple, "fairly new resident of Baltimore," who wrote to us recently to complain about drivers who "do not seem to understand basic courtesy and safety rules." Her points:
* 1. "What is the big deal about using turn signals? It is not difficult, costs nothing and would certainly let other motorists know what you are planning to do."
* 2. "Do Baltimoreans think it costs money to use their headlights? In the recent snowstorm, when visibility was minimal, the majority of cars did not have their headlights on."
* 3. "Running of red lights is common practice here. I have learned never to proceed on my green light until I look both ways."
* 4. "The crosswalk law is routinely ignored."
* 5. "Letting someone in as a courtesy when a lane is closed is unheard of by local drivers. And thanking someone when they let you in is another no-no here."
* Construction on Route 32 in Howard County continues! This
month, the state will begin adding a third lane eastbound from Broken Land Parkway to Interstate 95, a distance of just over a mile. Look out for temporary lane closings. The project will cost $742,000.
* The state will begin installing a temporary "roundabout" in Lisbon on April 12. It will be in effect three to six months and will be evaluated before the agency decides whether to make the traffic circle permanent.
* Sleep plays a role in up to 10 percent of the 20 million automobile accidents that occur each year, says the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Some researchers would like to develop an "alertness indicator" in cars to detect and warn drivers that they are about to nod off. It might measure such things as yawns and nodding heads.
* A poll by Allstate Motor Club found most drivers wanted interstate speed limits of 60 to 65 mph. Coming in a distant second was 65 to 70 mph. Maryland is one of only a handful of states that keep a 55 mph speed limit on all highways.