Another Crash on Arkansas Ave Proves that Inaction is Unacceptable

This morning, another crash ocurred on Arkansas Avenue, just a block north of where Kelly was hit.

On the morning of Sunday, April 6, a tow truck traveling northwest on Arkansas Avenue slammed into parked cars stationed just north of Iowa Avenue. The impact was so great that the first parked car jumped forward into the second, the second rammed into the third, and so forth — ultimately totalling or damaging four parked cars. People were walking to church just feet away from the impact.

A neighbor happened to have a video camera set up to record, and caught the incident on tape. It’s blurry, but in this video you can see that the tow truck was traveling quite quickly — as drivers too often do on this stretch — and that several pedestrians were scarily close to the crash area.


The crash occurs at 0:03 in this clip. It’s a bit blurry, so take a couple of times to watch it. You can really see how fast the truck was going once you see where the crash happens.

A neighbor reports that the tow trucked flipped over on its side and the driver was taken to the hospital to an ambulance. As far as we know, no other people were hurt.

This is just the most recent in a series of dangerous crashes that occurred when speeding drivers rear-ended parked vehicles on Arkansas Avenue. A shockingly similar incident one block south crushed Kelly Dillon’s leg. Eight surgeries and six months later, Mayor Vince Gray, the DC Department of Transportation, and Councilmember Muriel Bowser have admirably promised action to change to street design to slow down traffic — but we have seen no changes and no clear timetable for action.

The latest crash proves that there’s no excuse for inaction on this issue. Kelly created a petition on Change.org to demand action from Councilmember Bowser, Mayor Gray, and DDOT Chief Engineer James Cheeks — sign here to demand immediate action to make Arkansas Avenue safer.

This time, we’re going beyond the neighborhood. We’re going pitch journalists at the Washington Post, DC blogs, WAMU, and local TV news. The more people sign on, the more attention we’ll be able to bring to the issue and the more pressure will build for a solution.

Here’s Kelly’s take on today’s crash:

What frustrates me the most about this latest accident is that it fits the same pattern of single-vehicle accidents my neighbors and I have witnessed for years. The poor street design makes it all too easy for drivers to speed and collide with parked cars. At a community meeting in December following my accident, representatives from DDOT, Councilwoman Bowser’s office, and Mayor Gray’s office made a commitment to address the issue with specific improvements. Four months and one accident later, we are still waiting. The inaction of our public officials in this matter is unacceptable and irresponsible.

Let’s not let this vital community safety issue fall to the wayside as political priorities shift. Sign Kelly’s new petition demanding immediate action here. 

And if you have more details about this most recent crash — especially if you were present or your car was one of the affected vehicles — please get in touch with us.

Let’s fix Arkansas Avenue — with enough voices of outrage and support, we can get this done!

Thanks for your ongoing support.

DDOT Will Assess Arkansas Ave for Traffic Calming

Kelly Dillon, pictured here with mom Debbie, is now back at her home on Arkansas Avenue.

Kelly Dillon, pictured here with mom Debbie, is now back at her home on Arkansas Avenue.

Here’s a happy update to kick off your week: Arkansas Avenue is one step closer to becoming safer for everybody! At a community meeting last week, the DC government formally committed to making Arkansas Avenue safer for everybody — through both infrastructure improvements and stronger enforcement. 

Specifically, the District Department of Transportation has formally committed to studying possibilities for traffic calming on Arkansas Avenue. The Metropolitan Police Department has also agreed to increase enforcement of speeding and crosswalk violations on the street.

This is a big step in the right direction. Residents along Arkansas Avenue knew for a long time that through traffic speeds by way too fast. As one neighbor put it:

“We desperately need a means to slow traffic down. We have schools, playgrounds, swimming pools and churches on this stretch of Arkansas Avenue. If things are not done to compel drivers to slow down, it is only a matter of time before there is a fatal injury.”

And after the crash that landed Kelly in the hospital for over a month, there was no denying that something must be done.

In response to Kelly’s crash, over a hundred friends and neighbors signed on to the petition on this site asking DDOT for a traffic assessment. In short order, four DC elected officials — including Mayor Vincent Gray and Councilmember Muriel Bowser — pledged their support for neighbors and their commitment to fixing the street.

The Mayor helped set up a meeting between Arkansas Avenue neighbors, DDOT, and Police Department officials. At the meeting last Thursday, neighbors presented three major priorities:

  • The DC government must prioritize safety for neighborhood residents along Arkansas Ave over convenience for distance commuters. Eliminating the northbound rush hour lane and painting parking boxes will discourage dangerous commuter behavior.
  • The DC government must slow car speeds on Arkansas Avenue. More all-way stop signs, shorter light times, and narrower traffic lanes will encourage drivers to stop speeding.
  • The DC government must make it safe and accessible to walk, bike, and cross the street on Arkansas Ave. Raised and visible crosswalks, sidewalk bulb outs, and bike lanes will make the street safer and more livable for neighbors.

The two District Department of Transportation officials who were present — Mr. James Cheeks and Ms. Wanda Pinn-Mills — took note of neighbors’ suggestions. Next, these DC officials will undertake a formal traffic assessment for Arkansas Avenue. This process involves collecting data about speeds, cut-throughs, crashes, parking, and biking and walking patterns. Then, the agency will make recommendations for street fixes.

We should see the formal recommendations by spring of 2014, and we can expect construction on Arkansas Avenue to take place in summer of 2014. It’s possible that we will see small improvements — like high-visibility crosswalk markers and new paint on existing crosswalks — within the next six weeks. And we could start seeing more police enforcement as soon as this week.

Arkansas Ave's current design has cars speeding by — making it dangerous for families like this one to cross the street.

Arkansas Ave’s current design has cars speeding by — making it dangerous for families like this one to cross the street.

For now, we are cautiously optimistic that we’ll be seeing some good improvements to Arkansas Avenue in 2014! We will keep this site updated as we hear more. In the meantime, join the campaign for safer Arkansas and share your story here. 

Thank you to all of the neighbors whose support made this process possible. And thank you to Mayor Gray, Councilmember Bowser, Neighborhood Commissioner Jeff Standish, and Neighborhood Commissioner Joe Vaughan for their support and leadership.

Kelly was loading her car for a weekend trip when a speeding car changed her life.


The driver rammed into the vehicle parked behind Kelly’s own car on Arkansas Avenue. The impact was hard. It caused the hit car to lurch foward, pinning Kelly’s leg against her own car’s bumper and crushing her knee. Instead of heading to Virginia for the weekend, Kelly went straight to the hospital for an emergency operation to save her foot from amputation.

Kelly

Today, Kelly is healing. The driver, who was intoxicated, awaits a sentence. But the underlying issues that make Arkansas Avenue dangerous remain.

The stretch of street where Kelly was struck outside her house — Arkansas Avenue NW between 13th and 14th Streets — is desperately in need of safety improvements. Because of the way that the road was designed, drivers routinely speed 10 to 20 miles per hour over the  limit, creating safety concerns for the families and kids who walk and bike in the neighborhood. To keep everybody safe and tragedy-free in the future, we need to slow down the traffic on this residential street.

We can fix this. By painting lane markers and raising the grade of sidewalks, we can slow traffic on Arkansas Avenue to prevent crashes. But we need your help.

We are a group of  neighbors, elected officials, and concerned citizens pushing the city to institute “traffic calming” — changes to the street to encourage slower, more careful driving — along Arkansas Avenue NW. Will you join us?