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Pedestrian Deaths Near Univ. Of Md. Campus Prompt Demands For Action

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Derek Valcourt 370x278 Derek Valcourt
Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ) — Demands for action after two people are struck and killed crossing a busy road near the University of Maryland. The school’s president is pleading for help.

Derek Valcourt has more on the problem and what school leaders hope can be done about it.

University leaders say something needs to be done in order to save lives. They are calling on the state and students to take action.

Along a very busy Route 1 in College Park, jaywalking is a common site.

“The walkways aren’t really used that much. Kids kind of just walk wherever. It’s pretty dangerous,” Conner Thompson said.

That danger has turned downright deadly in the dark of night.

In the last two weeks, two students were struck. One of them, Carlos Pacanins, died. And in January, Maryland senior Cory Hubbard was killed by a hit-and-run driver.

“This is a crisis. We need action now,” said Chief David Mitchell, University of Maryland Police.

Mitchell echoes calls from university president Wallace Loh for more modern crossing signals with countdowns and audio cues. They also want a barrier in the median that would help force students and other pedestrians to cross at the designated crosswalks.

“We need it sooner than 18 months from now,” Mitchell said.

While state highway officials consider those possible improvements, University of Maryland officials are calling on pedestrians to pay more attention.

Electronic signs are now warning cars to watch for pedestrians and urging pedestrians to use crosswalks. The campus is launching education campaigns to try to break bad habits.

“A lot of times in the morning if you’re rushing to class, it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s empty. I might as well just kind of rush across,'” said junior Claire McDowell.

Police will increase their presence near popular bars in an effort to keep drunk pedestrians out of the road.

“Partially the fault of the pedestrian. But at the end of the day, the driver should be the one watching the most because they do have the killer vehicle essentially,” said Kayla Tarrant.

State highway officials say they will conduct a safety audit of the area and meet with university officials to discuss the requested changes.

Saturday, students at Johns Hopkins University will be launching their own pedestrian safety event from 11 a.m. until noon at St. Paul and 33rd streets, urging caution from both drivers and pedestrians.

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