Maryland State Police are increasing their presence and alerting commercial truck traffic after two tractor trailer crashes within 12 hours on the Capital Beltway in Montgomery County, which both had contributing factors that included speed too great for conditions and driver inattention.
The first incident was a crash that occurred just after 5:30 p.m. yesterday on the outer loop of I-495 near Bradley Blvd. It involved a tractor trailer driven by Yankuba Jarju, 39, of Jonesboro, GA, who reported no injury following the crash.
The preliminary investigation indicates the tractor trailer left the right side of the highway and struck a concrete barrier. It then jackknifed and traveled back across all travel lanes, spilling debris on the highway. The front of the trailer struck the left jersey wall, causing debris to fall into two lanes of the southbound I-270 spur, which was below.
Troopers charged Jarju with failure to reduce speed in dangerous weather/highway conditions and negligent driving. Troopers believe driver inattention was a contributing factor in the crash.
The second crash involving tractor trailers occurred at 3:20 a.m. today on the outer loop of I-495, east of the southbound I-270 merge. A tractor trailer driven by Oscar Yarde, 61, of Plainfield, NJ, was in the slow lane when it passed a tractor trailer driven by Nizar Johnson, 42, of Washington, D.C., which was being driven in the middle lane.
The preliminary investigation indicates Yarde failed to negotiate the left curve, which caused his truck to jackknife in front of the tractor trailer driven by Johnson. Yarde’s tractor trailer traveled across all lanes of the outer loop, struck the guardrail on the left shoulder and then came back across the outer loop and striking the concrete barrier on the right shoulder, before catching fire. Johnson was unable to avoid striking the first tractor trailer as it came back across the highway. Neither driver reported being injured in the crash.
Troopers charged Yarde with failure to reduce speed in dangerous weather/highway conditions, failure to reduce speed on a curve and negligent driving. Troopers believe driver inattention was a contributing factor in the crash.
Maryland State Police troopers in the Washington Metro Troop have been increasing visibility and enforcement efforts in the area for weeks, due to complaints of speeding vehicles and aggressive driving, especially on the Capital Beltway. These efforts increased again last Monday, April 20, when troopers from the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, not normally assigned to road patrol, began patrolling that Capital Beltway, especially in Montgomery County, with a focus on dangerous driving by commercial vehicles.
Since March 15, troopers at the College Park Barrack alone have written 800 traffic citations and issued 108 warnings for traffic violations, mostly on I-95 and I-495. In addition, troopers assigned to other details have been reassigned to conduct speed enforcement, especially targeting those areas where high speeds are most prevalent.
Troopers are using directional radar and unmarked patrol cars. This assists in surprising speeding drivers who rely on ‘apps’ to notify them of enforcement.
Troopers at the Rockville Barrack are conducting specific speed enforcement details in Montgomery County, in cooperation with the additional troopers from the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division. They contacted the MDOT State Highway Administration partners, who have deployed safety messaging in the area.
Troopers at the Forestville Barrack are also working high visibility enforcement operations on the Prince George’s County side of the Capital Beltway. They have been assigned to areas where complaints have been the highest.
The Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division commander contacted Drivewyze, a commercial vehicle driver ‘app’ and requested they issue warnings via their ‘app’ to truck drivers in the area. Troopers are hoping that message will alert drivers to recent crashes and remind them to stay alert and reduce their speeds through the region, especially during inclement weather.
Through personal observation and anecdotal information, troopers believe some drivers are taking advantage of lighter traffic volume to engage in aggressive driving and speeding. Regardless of the reasons, troopers will continue strict enforcement of all traffic laws in an effort to keep Maryland highways safe, even as we work to stop the virus spread during the state of emergency.