BREAKING NEWS — Multi-Vehicle Accident On GW Parkway

by April 14, 2011 at 3:47 pm 7,075 130 Comments

A multi-vehicle accident has been reported in the northbound lanes of the GW Parkway near Lady Bird Johnson Park. Arlington County firefighters and paramedics are on the scene.

Initial reports suggest a jogger may have been struck by one of the accident vehicles. Two people are reported to be injured, one critically.

Drivers should expect significant backups on the northbound GW Parkway approaching Memorial Bridge.

  • Hope they are ok, but I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often.

    The GW parkway is an odd road, and the pedestrian crossings only add to its oddness. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen almost-accidents due to a driver slamming on their brakes when they see someone waiting a crossing.

    • Steve

      Ditto. I nearly rear-ended some idiot on the GW last month who decided to go from 50-to-0 for a jogger WAITING to enter the crosswalk. The jogger, being smart, doesn’t actually want to cross because traffic has stopped in one lane but not the other. And yet the idiot remains stopped waiting for the jogger.

  • CW

    Oh jeez…my #1 nightmare scenario as an avid multi-mode Mt. Vernon Trail user just apparently came true for somebody. With that crossing right right by the split to go up to the Memorial Bridge, you don’t get much warning as to if the cars are staying on the parkways or veering off right to the bridge. The safest way is of course to wait for someone to stop for you, but…

    • No, the safest way to cross is to yield to the motor vehicles.

      • CW

        Huh? The off-ramp that I’m alluding to is only one lane wide. There are maybe 50 yards between the crosswalk and the split from the GW parkway. For traffic going 60 mph, that’s roughly 1.7 seconds (50/(1760*60/3600))of warning as to whether a car is staying on the parkway or veering into the off-ramp. The stream of traffic on the parkway is effectively non-stop. So there is no such thing as “yielding to the motor vehicles”, only educated guessing.

        • Thes

          +1 there is no stoplight anywhere near that location — only an endless stream of cars many of which aren’t even headed in the direction of the crosswalk. I believe there is, however, a sign for the vehicles specifically instructing the vehicles to yield to pedestrians. That location (which may or may not be the location of the injuries today) is also within the District of Columbia, where the law states that vehicles must yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.

          • Westover

            Are we talking the cross walk south of the bridge, with the stop signs for pedestrains and bikers or the location that fools have turned into a place to cross just north of the bridge?

          • mehoo

            No, that’s another death trap. This is that crossing just off the south side of the bridge where traffic is veering to go under the bridge instead of to it. But I don’t know if that’s where this accident was.

          • Lou

            Guilty. I actually use that north trail quite a bit because I’m usually coming across Memorial Bridge from the fields on that side. I have no problem biking it, but I would not want to try it on foot.

          • mehoo

            I often ride past that dirt trail shaking my head about how stupid it is to use it, and how stupid it is of the city not to put up warning signs on the other end of the bridge for tourists.

          • Lou

            But I’m smart. And I use it.

          • mehoo

            You’re contradicting yourself there, Lou.

            Seriously, that dirt trail has bad sight lines for both cars and anyone trying to cross because of the bridge, and no signs warning cars of a crossing (for what that’s worth).

          • Lou

            Maybe all the people who have worn down that trail are the smart ones. That’s usually how it happens when circulation is not designed properly. Humans will find the best way and make their own path. You see it all over the place.

          • The parkway belongs to NPS. The bridge belongs to DC.

          • mehoo

            The land there is in DC though, so DC traffic law probably applies.

          • Not that part. IIRC the only part “across the Potomac” that belongs to DC proper is part of Columbia Island.

          • Westover

            That is Columbia Island and is part of DC as strange as it may seem.

          • mehoo
          • Westover

            They do not need to yield until the person is IN the crosswalk, and because there are stop signs and signs telling pedestrians there to yield to traffic the onus is on the pedestrian/biker.

          • John Fontain

            True dat. The key word is “in.” I don’t know why so many people having a hard time understanding this. A car has to yield if a ped is “in” the crosswalk and a ped has to wait to enter the crosswalk until there are no cars approaching.

            Just yesterday I witnessed a man with a double stroller with two infants proceed to force a car to yield to him by plunging the stroller out in front of oncoming traffic even though he didn’t have the “walk” signal at the time. He, like many other peds, must be under the mistaken notion that cars should yield to a person standing on the side of a crosswalk.

            I can’t believe he risked his infants’ lives rather than wait 30 seconds for the walk signal.

          • Phil

            They need to remove the stop signs on the crosswalks if that makes drivers think they have right of way. Those stripes in the road are not for decoration. peds and joggers (and yes even bikes) have right of way.

          • Westover

            Yeah, let’s have folks running out into the road feeling they have the right of way against a two ton missile. Thankfully the sign make sure that the law at that point follows the laws of physics rather than trying to defy them.

          • Phil

            yeah westover you are right —if you are heavier and faster you always have right of way. You rock!

        • mehoo

          What part of “the stream of traffic is effectively non-stop” did you miss?

          • Didn’t miss it, I just don’t believe it. I bike there all the time and even during rush hour there are plenty of clear patches where you have plenty of time to cross.

          • bob

            but i am in a rush!

          • CW

            I have not over the years found that to be the case, especially not on weekends, during rush hour, or during tourist season.

          • 5 minutes, not 30 seconds. Yes I know it seems like a long time to wait.

          • CW

            What in the world causes this weird comment-hierarchy-undoing where all the posts under an existing sub-post get dumped to the end of the whole chain? I’ve been seeing it happen a lot lately.

          • JamesE

            I believe it happens when the root post is deleted

          • mehoo

            Instead of deleting it, the mod could just replace it’s text with “deleted”

        • Arlwhenever

          Agreed with all points of view. I cross there sometimes as a jogger and drive by frequently. The vehicles go way to fast and the runner/bikers/joggers are way too smug and bold.

          • Phil

            smug and bold? they have right of way. I’m not advocating jumping out in front of traffic…but the traffic should be stopping if anyone is even close to the crossing. of course they do not. they are in heavier and faster and more inportant
            …..exactly who is smug?

          • Westover

            No, at that section of the road, highway engineers have determined that they do not have the right of way and installed signs to show this. It is safer for a pedestrain or biker to wait for a large gap in traffic than it is for a car to slam on its brakes in the middle of the parkway.,

          • CW

            Highway engineers? What about the state statute?

          • It is a given that drivers and pedestrians must obey signage. If the sign requires pedestrians to stop (which requires them to yield) then they must do so.

    • Lawprof

      The statute provides that drivers are supposed to yield to crossing pedestrians “at” crosswalks, not just in crosswalks. The statute also provides that a pedestrian should not enter in “disregard of approaching traffic.”

      • Westover

        Two things here, Professor. One, the location being discussed is DC land, not Virginia. Second, even if it was VA land, the speed limit there is over 35mph, thus would not, “3. At any intersection when the driver is approaching on a highway or street where the legal maximum speed does not exceed 35 miles per hour.” negate the rest of this?

        • Andy

          You better read that law again. I mean, your presumably right that the accident took place in DC (I don’t really know where it happened), but you misread the VA law. For the law to be applicable it isn’t necessary to meet all three conditions- only one of them. This was a “clearly marked crosswalk” and thus it met condition 1).

      • At any intersection when the driver is approaching on a highway or street where the legal maximum speed does not exceed 35 miles per hour.

        GW parkway speed is > 35 MPH

        • mehoo

          According to the GW Parkway website the speed limit varies from 25 to 50, so it might not be >35 at that point.

          • I think it is only 25 when it goes through Old Town. Def not 25 at that spot.

      • Westover

        Really we will need Bill Clinton in court to explane what the definition of “at” is….. 😀

    • BoredHouseWife

      They need some pedestrian bridges. I am sure someone can come up with a nice design.

  • Lou

    Before jumping to conclusions, it’s entirely possible that a multi-car collision could send one or more cars off the road and on to the recreation trails.

    • CW


    • LBSki

      It turns out this is exactly what happened. The woman was waiting to cross — one car stopped, and a truck swerved to avoid hitting the car and hit her. She died yesterday.

  • mehoo

    People speed WAY faster than the speed limit on the GW.

    And the signs for pedestrians suck. Lots of times I see people trying to cross on the dirt path after crossing on the north side of the Memorial bridge instead of the south side, where there’s trail access and where visibility for both cars and pedestrians is better.

    • Westover

      It is a major transportation artery. The money really should be invested to safely seperate the cars from the runners and bikers.

      • mehoo

        Well, actually, it’s a park. It just turned into a major artery. What they should do is just enforce the speed limits.

        But a couple more overpass bridges would be okay by me.

        • Westover

          It became a major road the moment it opened as a Parkway. They bought out private lands and knocked down homes to build it. It was not pristine parkland when created. The Park does not predate the road.

          • mehoo

            It’s a park. Doesn’t matter when it was built or how many cars use it. It’s a park.

          • Westover

            It’s a MAJOR roadway, doesn’t matter if some don’t realize that.

          • Larchmont

            It’s a Resces Peanut Butter Cup, only the 2 don’t go so well together. A few (or 1) pedestrian overpasses would help, or a way to get down from the bridge(s) on the trail/river side of the road.

          • mehoo

            A major roadway…in a park.

          • Ray

            The Parkway was opened in the 1930’s. Whether or not is was pristine then seems irrelevant.

          • mehoo

            It was also designed in the 1930s, and that design didn’t envision it being a choked commuter highway.

          • Westover

            Exactly, time to adjust to the times.

    • EMY

      Yup see this all the time. People out running, biking and so forth cross at points where there is no crosswalk. Crossing at a crosswalk is dangerous enough on the parkway without upping the ante by crossing where there is no crosswalk. Particularly dangerous at points around curves where cars come around and a person darts in front out them. Not sure why people bother exercising there if they are too lazy to go a little further to cross a bit more safely.

      Not saying this is the case here. I have run along this train enough times to know that cars hardly ever slow down when a pedestrian is crossing in a crosswalk. In fact they often speed up. It’s frustrating, but typical of this area where people are in too much of a rush to ever slow down.

      • V Dizzle

        Conversely (and unfortunately) slowing down or stopping, if it’s either crosswalk that I’m thinking of, can be hazardous to the driver. I’ve had close calls as the stopper and as the person behind the stopper, and I’m a fairly careful driver. Also, I believe there are two lanes (again, the two areas I’m picturing). The scenario is possible where you to slow down, the jogger goes, and the person tailing you goes around and nails them. I’ve seen that almost occur as well.

  • Librarina

    Bikers and joggers who cross the GW on the dirt path “shortcuts” create dangerous conditions for themselves AND for drivers. There’s a reason that there are paved paths.

  • Aaron

    Speaking as a good friend of a local road engineer, the GW Parkway is simply put not designed for today’s standards (his words). Notice the curb in parts is paving stone? Notice no guard rails in the middle? Notice the narrowness in parts? The awkward ramps by the Key Bridge? I could keep going.

    Ja, it’s all quite bad, and its a NPS road so don’t go looking at VDOT or Arlington. And it also runs mostly in Va., and partly in DC with the weird borders. But NPS responsibility to fix and apparently they suck at operating roads safely, BW Parkway, for example.

    • It is however, fun to drive and quite pretty.

      • Ah, yes, and this is exactly the reason there are no guardrails or pedestrian bridges. Aestetics of the Nation’s Capital trump safety.

  • GOB

    I usually don’t check ARLnow after 4pm, but I’m at work waiting for someone to send me some information for an important paper. I had planned on taking GW Parkway on the way home…glad I know better.

  • LabradorInArl

    I use the trail as a runner and drive that section of the parkway as a commuter. It’s not good for either side of the equation. Runners don’t have a lot of time to dash across, and drivers — even when going the speed limit — do not have enough time to stop. Not to mention (if this is the same crossing I’m thinking about) that it is an extremely BAD place to stop if you’re in a car. I’ve seen cars nearly rear-ended by other cars (not speeding) coming around the curve. And because it’s such a bad spot, runners/bikers find other, non-crosswalk locations to cross, which is even more dangerous.

    I too hope everyone is OK, but also hope that whatever injuries were incurred help bring about a better option for the trail users.

    • CW

      Given your description, it’s the place you’re thinking of. Joggers: “Do I wait forever or do a suicide dash?” Drivers: “Do I potentially run over this jogger or risk being rear-ended by an SUV (from maryland of course) going 80 mph?”. Cyclists: “I’m screwed”. (because cyclists are the slowest of all from a stop over a 15 foot distance)

  • BILL

    car jumped the curb and landed on jogger…not a jogger running out

  • Lala

    How about drivers slowing down in general. I am sure a lot of these accidents would not occur if the drivers were not going too fast to react quickly and effectively. Also, pedestrians need to pay attention and be responsible for their own safety. All too often in N. Arlington you see pedestrians crossing street w/ ear buds in listening to music or talking on the phone. Many times they are not aware of turning vehicles and look quite startled when they see a car coming at them. Um, it’s the street vehicles shouldn’t surprise you if you are in it.

  • charlie

    at 630 tonight it was clear sailing from washington blvd to gw parkway north. and not a single car coming along gw parkway, so i’m speculating that the wreck was at the gw parkway crossing because no traffic and a ton of cars were coming up to memorial bridge and then going back down, suggesting the parkway was closed off.
    i’ve noted the crossing of death — why do people cross here? no one can see them. w hat if you trip>>

    • Bill

      I am a jogger. I was there. About 45 seconds after the incident. Had I been running a little faster or started a litle earlier, I would have been waiting at the same crossing myself, most likely standing next to the woman who was run over by the large crew cab pickup truck. I helped lift the pickup truck off the woman, with about 20 other guys. We pulled her out from underneath the rear wheel and axle, and very shortly afterwards, two off-duty Fairfax EMTs arrived and immediately began giving her medical help. Calls had already been made to 911, by one good citizen, who was relaying the necessary information to them as we were attempting several times to lift the truck. Ambulances and paramedics arrived within three to five minutes thereafter. They were very fast. Please pray, that this unfortunate woman survives and fully recovers. I don’t know who she was, but my heart is praying for her.

      After seeing what I saw, and talking to one witness who saw the whole thing unfold, in my opinion, the “accident” happened because of two key human shortcomings. First, was the driver of the original car who decided to be nice, polite, or whatever, and while doing 40-50 mph up the Parkway decided to stop to let the woman jogger cross the road, regardless of what traffic was bearing down from behind. I know the biketrail there has stop signs for bikers and pedestrians, and even says “dismount before crossing”, but I am not sure in VA if vehicles are required to stop when a pedestrian needs to cross, and I am not sure there are signs at that crossing for vehicles requiring such (I’ll check that tommorrow when I run that route again), but if not required, I agree, this is one of the most stupid things a driver can do. Stop on a busy, high speed highway to try to be courteous when it is not required and when other vehicles are coming up fast from behind and not anticipating this. Don’t do it! You may feel courteous, and like you are trying to be helpful, but look at what can happen. This did no one any good!

      The second factor that contributed to this terrible incident is speed and tailgating. Note I don’t call this part an “accident”. Driving too fast and tailgating are things that can be prevented, if we only think about it and make better choices. People choose to drive too fast and to tailgate. We have other choices. Even though the driver of the first car decided to stop to let the jogger cross, if everyone else had been controlling their speed relative to their stopping distance with the vehicle in front of them, and paying attention to their driving, there would have been no need for the pick up truck that hit the woman, to have to swerve off the road to the left and over the bike trail where she was standing, to avoid the already stopped cars.

      So in my opinion two primary things caused this unfortunate incident that this poor woman jogger is paying dearly for — People doing stupid things and people making bad choices.

      Please think about it next time you are out driving.

      • jma

        Thank you for being there and helping my friend, she is stable.
        JMA 😉

      • Charlie

        Thank you for being there and helping and thank you for your report.

      • mehoo

        Thanks for the report, and for helping this lady. What an unfortunate accident, and we all hope she recovers.

        I always think about swerving traffic. I stand behind the safety poles when I’m in a median and never ever ever stand in the street while waiting to cross it, like so many dolts in DC do.

      • DAS

        Thank you — and everyone else who stopped, lifted the car, called 911, etc. — for your kindness in helping my friend and colleague. She is stable, but has major injuries. She’s still in ICU at GW Hospital. Her family deeply appreciates everything that was done to help her.

    • That’s where I was thinking it occurred as well, because the info from the article says NB approaching Memorial Bridge. Which is in Virginia btw.

      • Actually, I stand corrected. That part you marked is on Columbia Island

  • kc

    The proposed trail that was referenced awhile ago that will run along 110 to the Pentagon and then under the parkway down by Columbia Island will help avoid the bad intersections discussed above for many folks depending on where you’re coming from.

  • ArlLiver4

    Is it one or two lanes there?

    I understand people being polite and stopping for a ped or biker to cross, but if its two lanes the person in the adjacent lane might not know, and this creates an accident — in the true sense of the word.

    Prayers are with the injured, as well as everyone else involved.

    • mehoo

      Yes, one car stops – usually in the lane near the pedestrian/cyclist – but the traffic in the far lane doesn’t, or worst, someone passes the stopped car in the other lane. The stopped car is a barrier to sight for both the pedestrian and the other cars. It’s a hairy situation. People get killed at train intersections alot this way.

      • NomNom

        I have to agree with you. I am not familiar with the area this accident happened, but about a month a go I stopped for a pedestrian pushing a stroller through the intersection of Barton and 12th. A VA cabbie blew by me and nearly clipped the woman. It made me feel awful and scared at the same time, because my car was blocking the view of the woman and cabbie probably thought I was turning without a signal.

  • jma

    That “woman” is a colleague and close friend. Thank you Bill for your kindness, she is stable.

  • Bluemont John

    Just read the firsthand account from the gent who helped the victim–so sorry about what happened to her and glad she’s stable. Glad there are still good people willing to help.

    The law in VA is part of the problem. I’ve been told by Arl Cty that “yield” to pedestrians is unclear because some believe it means that drivers who see a ped waiting to cross should stop to let them cross (likely the intent of the law IMO), while others believe it means the walker has to be in the crosswalk already–which no sane person would attempt on a busy road. (Note this is not what happened here.)

    I agree that drivers should slow down and not tailgate. Unfortunately, cars get more powerful every year–remember when 200HP was considered a powerful engine?–and as they get taller (SUVs) the senation of going fast is reduced, so that people don’t realize they’re going 60 and not 40.

    I say, put a stoplight there.

    • The law is clear. Drivers must yield to peds that have entered a road, be it a crosswalk or even if they are jay-walking while texting, or dancing a hula.

      However peds must not enter a road with disregard to vehicle traffic.

      • charlie

        clear as mud.
        but this is the issue people DO NOT realize — pedestrians CANNOT just blatantly cross — they must only cross when it is clear.

        But this was in DC — Columbia Island is an island and the DC border is the high tide line on the Virginia shore… so are the laws different in DC?

        • Most traffic regulations are simliar across jurisdictions. I havent researched DC, but most places put the shared burden on the vehicle to yield, and the pedestrian to pay attention.

          • Scott

            I was there shortly afterward. The incident occured on Columbia Island, which is DC (although the C.I. Marina lists its address as Virginia).

            Where the Parkway runs through VA, the county/city police and DPS share authority but both apply Virginia law. The correct traffic law to apply, then, on Columbia Island would appear to be DC Code.

            DC ST § 50-2201.28(a). “When official traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall stop and give the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.”

            There is a conflict here, unlike in DC proper where both the Park Service and DC share authority. I’ve never seen DC patrol GW Parkway. None of the responding officers were DC police. I did see Virginian cops and DPS at the scene.

            There are ambiguities in the statute. Firstly, the statutes purports to apply “at an intersection.” What’s an intersection? Is a pedestrian crosswalkd itself an intersection? Traffic laws don’t tend to generate a lot of case law and they are interpreted loosely to cover the situation.

            Secondly, there is no mention of how the pedestrian is to enter the crosswalk. There are several comments here about only entering the crosswalk when there is no traffic. That doesn’t make any sense. Okay, it makes sense from a mom-talking-to-a-child kind of sense. But from the point of view of the law, it doesn’t. The law anticipates that traffic will be present when the pedestrian is in the crosswalk. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a law. It appears that the statute by itself urges pedestrians to blindly charge out into traffic. This might actually make sense.

            Stick with me for a moment. In France, the basic rule of the road is, if a four-wheeled vehicle gets into an accident with a two-wheeled vehicle, the four-wheeled vehicle is at fault. When I first drove there, I thought the motorcyclist and scooters were suicidal the way the jumped in front of cars. But, I never saw an accident involving either. The cars all knew they would be at fault, and they drove accordingly. The DC statute might be trying to encourage the same kind of mentality. If cars know that pedestrians (where there is no stoplight) will blindly charge out into the road and cars will be liable for any accident, car drivers may drive more carefully.

            Enough with the law . . . As a regular commuter on GW Pkwy across the crosswalk and as a regular pedestrian/bicyclist on the trail across the Pkwy, I think the proper solution is greater signage and driver awareness of the situation. When I drive through, I don’t speed becuase I know that for about a quarter-mile stretch people are on the road. If I’m going 35-40 (as is the law), I have plenty of time to stop (which is probably also the law).

            The problem with cars stoping is that other cars are speeding through without thinking about the situation. Fine. Make them aware with large yield signs and blinking lights.

            This will annoy some drivers. (I remember a few years ago when DPS put in yield signs. Drivers actually plowed over them within a couple days! And, the signs haven’t been back since.) But, if everyone knows that pedestrians (which includeds bicyclists by law) have the right-of-way, and that they are present regularly, then the situation will be much safer for everyone.

            (BTW, for those of you that think the “stop signs” on the trail mean anything about the law, you are mistaken. Those stop signs were put there by an ignorant idiot that thought it was a good idea at the time. If you have any authority to the contrary, I’d love to see it.)

          • BTW, for those of you that think the “stop signs” on the trail mean anything about the law, you are mistaken. Those stop signs were put there by an ignorant idiot that thought it was a good idea at the time.

            I guess you didn’t make the debate team, did you?

          • charlie

            well it is a good point. Is a STOP SIGN on a non-vehicular pathway considered “law”. Yeah, it might be a good warning, but it may have no legal basis.

          • Scott

            @ TGEoA:

            I was on the debate team. . . . did just fine. One of lessons I’ve carried with me is that when something is painfully clear, you don’t belabor the point.

            The trail stop signs were put up for mere edification, a warning of a dangerous situation.

            Instead of repling with ad hominem attacks (big debate word), you might find some statutory or orther authority making your point. I’d happily concede the point if I’m show to be wrong.

            @ everyone else: Please forgive all the typos. It should have read that the pedestrian stop signs don’t mean anything *under* the law (“‘stop signs’ on the trail mean anything (delete:about) [under] the law”). I’m a terrible typist.

          • The only ad hominem was you calling the engineer who put the pedestrian signs up an idiot, which in a way is what I was pointing out because what you claim about pedestrians signage not being enforcable by statute is incredulous.

            For your edification, read up on Jaywalking.

          • mehoo

            I don’t think he isn’t saying that pedestrians don’t have to follow laws that apply to them, he’s saying that there’s no law that requires them to stop at “Stop” signs posted on trails. I don’t know if that’s true, but I think that’s what he mean.

          • I think that is what he means as well. But it simply isn’t true. It is analagous to disobeying a “do not walk” signal.

          • Scott

            Thanks mehoo. That is what I mean.

            The term jaywalking refers to crossing in a place where it is prohibited or to cross when a sign (e.g. a solid red hand) prohibits crossing. Niether situation is relevant here. Here’s a great (though not authoritative) source for reading up on the topic:

          • @Scott, look at the picture in the link above. There are two stop signs, one for each pedestrian entrance. Below that is a sign which IIRC says “bikers must dismount”.

            As for Jaywalking, I was referring you to an EXAMPLE of how pedestrians are required *BY LAW* to follow signage. It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to realize that “stop” and “bikers must dismount” are analagous.

          • @mehoo

            People do speed there — then again, where don’t they speed? Of course this is a much more dangerous situation so maybe the NPS can do some enforcement, thouhg it would be very difficult to do. No place to hide a speed trap, and that would cause saftey issues of its own. Illegal to setup speed cameras.

            The only viable solution is to use traffic calming devices which I can’t see the Dept of the Interior being thrilled with.

          • mehoo

            Yeah, well, traffic calming beats dead people. I don’t know what they could do either, but if traffic calming is the only choice, so be it. If I were Jim Moran, I’d try to force them to do something. And then jerks on this board would bash me for it, and I’d ignore them.

          • CW

            Interesting and informative post. If only people were rational, then your ideas would be well-received. Unfortunately, I doubt that simply “knowing” that peds have the right of way will do much. People “know” damn well that they’re supposed to stop for stop signs, use turn signals, and not go 40 over the limit on the parkway, and we all know how that turned out.

            And while traffic incidents may not generate a lot of case law, this particular incident is certain to generate a handful of interesting civil suits.

          • Street View

            This is the scene of the accident (according to somoene who posted the long/lat).

            Note the cross-walk, but also note the stop signs for the pedestrians.

          • CW

            Yep. I know that crossing all too well.

            But let’s keep in mind that this isn’t about what the jogger was doing. All of you talking about joggers stopping, yielding to cars, waiting 10 minutes for a break in traffic, whatever – that’s what she was doing according to the sources that we have. This is about idiot drivers. And while some people think it’s a good idea to do so, I’m not going to take the step of villifying the person who stopped to let the jogger cross. That just violates human decency.

          • Scott

            @ CW
            Great point, probably the most salient here. The rest of us should just be quite now, and so I will. *Cheers*

          • The only “idiotic” things I’ve witnessed around there is cars going 50-0 to stop at that crosswalk. And according to the witness report that is exactly what happened. But I’m not blaming them for trying to be courteous.

            The fact is that the GW parkway is confusing as hell, especially to newbies.

          • CW

            Yes, but the way our traffic code is constructed, the rear-ender is more or less always at fault. If a porsche with a set of 13″ brembos slams them on full-bore and goes 60-0, and you run into him driving your big SUV, then tough sh*t, you were following too closely. I’m not going to even entertain the idea that it was the fault of someone decently stopping at a crosswalk because some fool in a truck decided to slam into him or her.

          • mehoo

            Thanks TG, I know this one well too. Just crossed it today.

            My problem with this crossing is that people seem to speed (does anyone know the speed limit there?) and the warning signs for cars impede the view for people trying to look for cars before crossing safely.

            Sometimes when it’s busy, you have to get out there and force a car to slow down if you have any hope of crossing. It’s a hairy place.

          • Bluemontsince1961


            If I recall correctly, the parkway speed limit in the area you’re talking about is 40.

          • I’m not going to even entertain the idea that it was the fault of someone decently stopping at a crosswalk because some fool in a truck decided to slam into him or her.

            Yeah, that truck driver must have said to himself, “Hey! Let’s slam into that car ahead of me”. And as for the driver who stopped, it was reckless behavior. I know they were trying to do what they felt was right, but it was reckless nonetheless.

          • Lou

            Tough call. My only two car accidents involved me getting hit from behind, both times by inattentive drivers (I saw the one lady literally putting on makeup through my rear view as she hit me at a light). The other driver tried to claim some BS to the cop who showed up, and in both cases the officer told me the car that strikes from the rear is almost always at fault. Almost.

            I’m no underwriter, but my first thoughts on this say the person who slowed for the jogger is going to need a good lawyer.

            There is the other school of thought that you are responsible for being in complete control of your vehicle in all circumstances, including being able to stop for something blocking the road, no matter how fast you are going.

          • CW

            [This post has been deleted]

          • Try removing the numerous personal attacks and insults from your response and post again.

          • Lou

            You should offer a subscription level service where people can pay to see all the redacted nastiness.

          • +1

          • CW

            Ok, well since the discussion as moved down here due to the weird post jumping around behavior, all I was saying was that I found it, um, illogical, that one would postulate that a person is not responsible for the effects of actions that they choose to perform when those actions result in a negative outcome. Just as a drunk driver is held responsible for anything that happens while he is drinking and driving, someone who causes an accident due to tailgating and/or not paying attention should be responsible. What the poster that I was being mean to was saying was equivalent to saying “I held out the gun and pulled the trigger, it’s your fault for walking in front of the bullet.”

          • The fact you fail to grasp is that the car that stopped (based upon witness information posted here) did so in a reckless manner.

          • CW

            Until the proper governing body publishes a statute deeming stopping for a pedestrian about to enter a crosswalk to be reckless, or until a court of law convicts said driver of reckless driving, I will refuse to grasp this “fact”, nor to acknowledge it as a “fact”, given that there is no factual basis for it.


            Search for “crosswalk”. You will notice no where does the manual state anything about pedestrians “about to enter” a crosswalk. It only refers to pedestrians IN crosswalks.

            Now search for “reckless driving” and “negligent driving”.

            Now consider some testimony:

            … talking to one witness who saw the whole thing unfold, in my opinion, the “accident” happened because of two key human shortcomings. First, was the driver of the original car who decided to be nice, polite, or whatever, and while doing 40-50 mph up the Parkway decided to stop to let the woman jogger cross the road, regardless of what traffic was bearing down from behind

            I’ll concede that this description falls more towards the “negligent” description in the manual but I’ll leave that for a court to decide. It doesn’t change the fact that the driver, though well intentioned use poor judgment. And as I said before, some of the blame for this can be placed on the design of the parkway.

          • CW

            Wow, really? That was child’s play compared to some of the ad hominem attacks I’ve been subjected to on this site. And it’s unfortunate that my actual point – a very valid one – could not stand.

  • Bill

    It is good to hear the victim is stable. That is good news. Thank you.
    The precise coordinates of the location of the accident, in case you are wondering which G-W Parkway crossing it was, are 38degrees-53mins.-01.02seconds N and 77-03-24.70W.
    This is a straight stretch of highway with clear visibility of the crossing.

  • CW

    Right – anytime I’ve seen a root post deleted, the mod’s been careful to replace it with a placeholder. I suppose it’s for just this reason. But I don’t remember there being any particularly reprehensible content above those posts.

    As a side note: I can’t believe ClizzleDizzle’s first comment on the “Car Catches Fire After GW Parkway Crash” article is still standing!

  • CW

    Oh God! Now it’s just putting posts wherever it feels like it!!

    (referencing my 4/15 @ 9:49 am sandwiched between a 4/15 @ 8:37 pm and 4/14 @ 4:22 pm)

  • BK

    I was one of the guys who helped lift the truck too, Bill described it exactly right, I was about 50 yards behind driving on the parkway and saw it firsthand. Glad to hear she is “stable” it was a frightening sight. They also took the driver of the car away in an ambulance as he was having difficulty breathing and was in obvious shock.

  • U.S. Marine


    You and I probably arrived about the same time. I was coming from the Pentagon, and the thought has occured that had I left my desk one minute earlier I would have been under that truck. Tragic and avoidable. This could just as easily hvae been a family enjoying a spring afternoon during their kids’ spring break. This had nothing to do with joggers, as she was struck nearly 30 feet off of the roadway. Completely beyond her control. I’m only glad I was able to help and to hear she is still with us. I would ask that anyone reading this consider a moment of introspection to giving your full attention to the road when behind the wheel of a car and forego the texting, cell phoning, and other distractions we as a society have normalized as justiable conveniences. Further, pass it along to others you know. If you had seen this poor girl trapped under the rear axle of that truck yesterday you would share my perspective.

  • JEH

    Unfortunately, the pedestrian hit by the truck in this accident passed away around 7 pm on Tuesday, April, 19, 2011.

    • Tabby

      So sorry to hear this. 🙁

    • Adam Hoffman

      Karen Dubin was a great women. She was the pedestrian hit by the truck that passed away five days later. She was fine last time I spoke to her. I think of her and miss her a lot. I sometimes want to cry about this tragedy. I was saddened and shocked when I found out about her passing from this accident. I’m so sad for her family and the drivers involved in this accident, especially the driver of the pickup truck and her mother.

  • Heidi

    I think stopping at crosswalks is the law. I looked it up, and here is, I think, the code. I remember 25 years ago that this was a dangerous spot. Seems to me a better system needs to be put in place, e.g., a traffic light that can be activated by the pedestrians needing to cross, or a footbridge over the highway (best yet).

    § 46.2-924. Drivers to stop for pedestrians; installation of certain signs; penalty.

    A. The driver of any vehicle on a highway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing such highway:

    1. At any clearly marked crosswalk, whether at mid-block or at the end of any block;

    2. At any regular pedestrian crossing included in the prolongation of the lateral boundary lines of the adjacent sidewalk at the end of a block;

    3. At any intersection when the driver is approaching on a highway or street where the legal maximum speed does not exceed 35 miles per hour.

    B. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A of this section, at intersections or crosswalks where the movement of traffic is being regulated by law-enforcement officers or traffic control devices, the driver shall yield according to the direction of the law-enforcement officer or device.

    No pedestrian shall enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic.

    The drivers of vehicles entering, crossing, or turning at intersections shall change their course, slow down, or stop if necessary to permit pedestrians to cross such intersections safely and expeditiously.

    Pedestrians crossing highways at intersections shall at all times have the right-of-way over vehicles making turns into the highways being crossed by the pedestrians.

    C. The governing body of Arlington County, Fairfax County, the City of Fairfax, the County of Loudoun and any town therein, and the City of Alexandria, may by ordinance provide for the installation and maintenance of highway signs at marked crosswalks specifically requiring operators of motor vehicles, at the locations where such signs are installed, to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing or attempting to cross the highway. Any operator of a motor vehicle who fails at such locations to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians as required by such signs shall be guilty of a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of no less than $100 or more than $500. The Commonwealth Transportation Board shall develop criteria for the design, location, and installation of such signs. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any limited access highway.

    (Code 1950, §§ 46-243, 46-244; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-231; 1962, c. 471; 1968, c. 165; 1972, c. 576; 1976, c. 322; 1989, c. 727; 2000, c. 323; 2002, c. 327; 2004, c. 658; 2007, c. 813.)

  • Adam Hoffman

    Karen was a great women. She was fine last time I spoke to her. I think of her and miss her a lot. I sometimes want to cry about this tragedy. I was saddened and shocked when I found out about her passing. I’m so sad for her family and the drivers involved in this accident, especially the driver of the pickup truck and her mother.


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