RIVERDALE PARK, Md. (DC News Now) — The death of two elementary students in Riverdale Park Monday morning sheds light on a growing need for safer roads and more crossing guards in Prince George’s County, and school leaders are pushing to see just that.
A growing memorial sits at the crosswalk just a few feet from Riverdale Elementary School in honor of the children who were hit and killed while walking to school.
Monday’s news shocked the entire community. Several people left flowers, cards, candles and balloons near the crosswalk for the 5-year-old and 10-year-old.
“It was a ball of emotions, why is pedestrian death plaguing Prince George’s County right now?,” said Jocelyn Route, Prince George’s County Board of Education member-at-large. “My heart goes out to the families of both of the children who tragically lost their lives. And all of the students and the teachers and the staff members.”
Route has been advocating for safer roads for pedestrians for a while. She said this accident was an example of why more needs to be done.
“I’m thinking about this as a teaching opportunity to really save our community and educate our community on strategies that we all know, but needs to be reminded about,” she said.
According to the Maryland Department of Transportation, Prince George’s County led the state in pedestrian-related crashes last year with 425 accidents.
The Prince George’s County Police Department said 30 pedestrians died last year. 19 people have lost their lives so far this year, including the two children who died Monday.
“We all need to come together and really look at what safe passage looks like in Prince George’s County and really come up with a comprehensive plan. What are the things that we can immediately do to change? Is it lighting? Is it sidewalks? Is it crossing guards? Are there stop signs? Are they lighted? Like we need to really know what’s going on,” said Route.
Recently, the county council passed the Walkable Urban Streets Act. The legislation aims to design safer roads in new development areas for pedestrians and drivers. Later they plan to make changes needed in other areas of the county to ensure pedestrians can get to their destinations safely.