Cars and trucks go whizzing by the Rosemont Avenue interchange on U.S. 15, the main north-south artery through Frederick, at speeds that almost always exceed the 55 mph speed limit, except at rush hour.
Perhaps if you have been crawling along or stopped in one of those rush hours, you might have noticed the houses lining the east side of the freeway near Rosemont. Perhaps you did, but even people who travel the road almost every day barely notice them. You might have thought: “Wow, those houses are so close to the highway.”
But then the traffic began moving and your attention was diverted, and you thought no more about those houses — until a tanker truck veered off the road over the weekend.
That fuel truck crashed into a tree and burst into flames, killing the driver, destroying one home and damaging others. Suddenly, everyone’s attention was on U.S. 15.
And everyone soon realized that the tree that the tanker hit kept this crash from becoming an even worse disaster. Other than the tree, there was nothing to stop the tanker truck from crashing into homes on Apple Avenue.
The impact of such a crash is almost inconceivable.
The Frederick Freeway was built in the 1950s and 1960 to carry traffic through the city.
The 4-mile-long portion of the highway between Interstate 70 and Md. 26 — the stretch where the tanker crash occurred — carries between 93,800 and 117,000 vehicles daily. The State Highway Administration projects a rise to between 121,400 and 182,100 vehicles per day by 2042.
U.S. 15, as it is now designated, is long overdue for an upgrade, and finally one is planned. Maryland has designated $167.7 million in construction funding as part of the Maryland Consolidated Transportation Program Draft for FY 2023 through 2028.
The widening project is planned to add one lane of traffic in each direction, using land that is currently the roadway’s median. Money would go toward improving interchanges, but leaders have said the project would not require taking any homes.
If the homes closest to the highway are to remain there, the project must include improvements to safeguard residents from the road. As matters now stand, only a thin strip of vegetation separates the road from the highway, and one of the trees was destroyed by the fire.
Paul Hamilton, a resident of Apple Avenue, told WBAL television in Baltimore that residents have been asking for guard rails or sound walls to be installed for the past five years, to prevent an incident like this, but no action was taken.
“We just want some protection. I mean, it took what little protection that we had away, and you can see from this tree, to that tree up there, you’ve got close to 100 yards of open space. No guardrail, no wall,” he told the station.
State and local officials should first act quickly to install metal guard rails along this strip of the freeway.
No, a guard rail would not have stopped the tanker truck running out of control toward Apple Avenue. But such a barrier would likely stop a car or a motorcycle from crashing through into houses, or children who might be playing, or people who might be walking along the street.
Next, the road improvement plan needs to include better measures, such as a concrete wall, to keep highway traffic from reaching the neighborhood. Such an improvement also would help residents by diminishing the roar of the traffic.
The tanker truck crash was a rare event, but with traffic on the highway expected to increase by as much as 70,000 more cars a day in the next 20 years, safety and noise mitigation need to be high priorities.
Yes. A sound wall. Absolutely.
The merge area onto Rt 15 from Rosement Avenue is extremely dangerous because the merge area is not long enough to allow a safe merge onto Rt 15. I avoid that entrance onto the highway all the time. The other entrances do not have that problem.
All this discussion about merging, etc.
I remember one of the commenters here in this discussion, a non cdl driver arguing with me, a cdl driver that further north on 15, where mishaps occur weekly, that it’s completely safe for class 8 combo units to enter 15 north and do a U’ie and head south. Naturally, me correcting them is something they can’t handle
the real problem with merge, yield, or traffic circles is that people today are concerned with only their need - not the need to share the road
I disagree; mostly people do not know what they are doing and are overly timid
And the other side of that coin, shiftless, is that some people think that they are driving normally, but those they interact with believe they are driving aggressively. The speeding up as to not allow someone to merge is classic overreaction by a driver believing someone is taking "their space". The psychology of merging on a highway and road rage is interesting.
And on the other side of that coin is that a driver dropping their speed too quickly to allow a car to merge causes several cars to quickly drop speed. Causing an accident further back in the flow. I agree that closing the gap is incorrect, dropping your speed is also incorrect. It is a yield, unlike with stop signs, drivers aren’t required to come to a complete stop at a yield sign and may proceed without stopping -- provided that it is safe to do so. If it's not safe, the merging car does have to stop. Traffic on the highway does not and should not stop. Which would turn traffic into a parking lot on the city streets. The ramp design is so outdated. It would help if people actually slowed down and drove the speed limit through Frederick. Using turn signals would also benefit all.
It's called cooperative driving, notsure. If I slow slightly to give someone enough room to merge, it prevents traffic backing up on the merge lane so nobody in that lane can get up to merging speed. Just today some @$$hole on 15 at the Patrick St. junction deliberately sped up when I used my turn signal to signal my intent to change lanes, as required by law. The law also states that enough space shall be maintained to allow such a merge.
The aggressive drivers who blast onto the highway going 70, not caring who they cut off. You think the car that cut off the tanker truck even looked behind him?
Seven, let me 'splain something to you. To be cut off is to have to change direction or velocity to avoid a collision. If you are driving 55 and I pull up to your right in the merge going 60 and pull in front of you, you do not have to change either direction or velocity. However, if I am going 55 and you pull in front of me going 50, then I am cut off as I DO have to change either velocity or direction. That is one reason why it is better to be going slightly faster than traffic as you enter the merge area. Another reason is that if you are going slow, the person to your left sees you and may speed up to close that gap. Then you are hosed, trying to speed up quickly or slow down even more. If you are going faster, then you can slot in easily because if they see you coming and don't want you ahead of them, that will open a gap behind them so you just slot there. Seriously, you should think this through; it may keep you from screwing up merges all the time.
I see your point, seven. And I also was wondering if the person even knew they cut the truck off.
Right shiftless - roar onto the highway at high speeds, then jam on your brakes before you crash into the car ahead of you. And the tanker truck behind you is what …cutoff?
Just throwing this out there--ten years or so I was driving in either Belgium or the Netherlands, and they had a rule opposite to ours--the car entering / merging had right of way over the cars already on the street / freeway. Sounds more dangerous to me, but someone somewhere must have accident statistics comparing both ways.
As for me personally, I always assume all other drivers are distracted, high, or drunk. So if I see a car trying to merge, I'll slow down if I can (no cars behind me) and flash my lights. If the merging car is going really slowly, I won't slow down for him, but I'll flash my lights to let him know "Hey! Look over here! Don't hit me!"
A concrete wall along 15 would be a good idea and standard for that kind of highway proximity. Look at what they are doing along Highway 7 in Virginia. Of course, those are fancy houses with wealthy owners so they are more likely to get what they want, but it would make sense. 15 through Frederick isn't going to get less crowded or dangerous in the future.
Not just safety. The quiet possible with a sound wall can be lifechanging.
People have to take responsibility for where they buy a home. You need to weight all the factors, including what the future may bring. You don't buy a house along a major highway, and then complain that the highway needs changed. Buy some where else. It's just like buying beside an open field. Just because it's a field today doesn't mean it will be tomorrow. Think about where you're buying.
Omg you can’t predict everything! We border an actual church that was 15 years in coming and has been there about 20 and apparently recently vacated to rent to another denomination that already owns property elsewhere. It is raising money to build. Has it occurred to us what the church that owns this could do next with valuable in-city property? Yes. Did it seem “all that” as an empty field in 1979, or the years that followed until they built? NO. You buy. It seems fine at the time. We’d still think so if this hadn’t happened. But come to think of it, the road noise must be something. They’ve been good sports.
If an airplane crashed into a house, are we going change the building code to make all houses airplane resistant? This is a fluke incident. Hundreds of thousands of homes sit within a proximity to a road where there is a 1 in a billion chance of being struck. Do we want to spend our tax dollars to prevent something that will likely never happen again?
Hundreds of thousands have sound walls.
Your editorial is good, the question is whether a concrete wall would be thick enough to stop a heavily loaded truck with fuel oil. Here is a design web site for concrete wall barriers along roads
There are houses at the edge of roads everywhere. I disagree that this incident triggers any special consideration to this specification location.
Many yrs ago I lived in a home less than 25’ from the edge of a 55 mph highway. Close enough that trucks shook the house.
These houses at hand are no worse off than the house in lived in that was way closer to the road.
The historic house I grew up in had a truck narrowly miss it as it barreled between houses using a narrow opening between them, and hit a tree in our backyard. So what. My dad bought part of an iron fence that a bank was replacing and it’s still there. It’s still an intersection with a downhill part directly into the front of the house that occasionally gets a vehicle in the yard. Nobody died so far. My dad planted trees. The next owners removed them 🤷🏻♀️ What do the residents want? Just because you’re not “worse off” doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a solution others get.
One crash in 50 years. And no vehicles in any yards. Majority of the highways in the country have no barriers.
I said highways I didn’t say interstates
Let's also discuss the drivers who come off that exit ramp and merge into traffic long before they are up to speed, or drivers in the travel lanes slowing down to 30 mph to allow that traffic to merge. I'm willing to bet it was one of those two scenarios that caused that crash. I've nearly rear-ended vehicles thousands of times over the years, drivers don't even look before merging, and don't wait until they are anywhere near 55mph before pulling out into traffic. And people trying to be "courteous" while being dangerously rude to the people behind them, causing all of those traffic jams on 15 in rush hour.
Baring the driver having a medical emergency as cause for this terrible accident, I suspect there is more to learn about it’s cause. Looking at pictures it appears the truck cabin was wrapped around the tree suggesting speed was a factor. Was the driver attempting to avoid collision into other vehicles by driving off the roadway, possibly due other factor such as other traffic behavior, behind his control. Suspect there is more to learn, but unfortunately we may never know. Possibly other drivers who witnessed the chain of events will come forward, if they haven’t already?
CLI most likely has the dash cam footage on their server. Showing him being cut off, showing up until the heat killed the camera. We will never see the footage, and CLI isn’t obligated to make it public.
A loaded truck at 55mph can easily wrap around a tree like that. Those red steel posts in front of Sheetz bent my a bumper on our 22 yr old class 7 truck and all it did was gently bump against it. So think about the force of a loaded unit at 55mph
With the weight of tanker behind it, agree.
Tankers are usually divided into cells. This is so the liquid can not forcefully splash forward causing even more forward motion thrust. I know the cells work, but I have always wondered to what degree. A full tanker is safer, because the liquid can’t transfer forward. But a less than full tanker - even with the cells, I have always wondered how much the liquid can still splash forward
Also, witnesses stayed from the tone it happened that it was a Sheetz truck and that he was cut off.
"Also, witnesses stayed from the tone it happened..."
What? Smart phone out smart ya again, did it? [lol]
The issue you cite here is one of courtesy, bnick. Those are merge lanes, meaning the driver is supposed to come up to speed before merging into traffic. The other half of "merging" is those in the traffic lanes allowing the car attempting to merge to do so. I have often "picked my spot" in the traffic lane, only to have some nudnik speed up to prevent me from doing so. So yes, I am one of those who open some space to let people in when they are trying to merge. Again, it's called courtesy. If you find that "rude", TFB.
If I were King, I would force every driver to take a merge class and traffic circle class and no one could drive until they passed.
Spot on, shiftless. I would recommend having to pass the written test to renew a driver's license too. All of this is in the little manual they hand out when you get your learner's permit, and if you know what you're doing, the test isn't that difficult at all.
Yah, and a written test when you have to renew your gun license... (-;
I hear what you’re saying, shift.
I feel like more of the problem is simply patience. One can’t learn patience via any class.
Very morning on 28 south someone always having to pass in no passing zones with oncoming traffic. There if been times where one more second and thing would have gotten very ugly. Because of lack of patience.
Society lacks patience.
Society lacks self control.
@ threecents Mar 8, 2023 11:52am
If there were such a thing, sure. I'd pass with flying colors. [wink]
Pb; good training helps patience.
You officially have my vote for king!!!
And not sit on the left lane while check for new messages on the phone.
Maintaining speed or slowing down SLIGHTLY to allow AT SPEED traffic to merge is one thing. I do that myself. Slowing down to 25mph on the highway to allow a vehicle that is going 20mph to merge isn't courteous, it's STUPID. It's also ILLEGAL. Those triangular red and white sign with the word "YIELD" on them are for the traffic on the ramp, not for the traffic on the highway. And it happens at every on-ramp on 15, but is extremely prevalent at that particular ramp. And yes, it's very RUDE to the people following you who have to avoid rear-ending you because you're slowing down to be "courteous". If you are one of those people then yes, you are rude.
Well, if you're about to rear end someone when they slow down a bot to be courteous and allow someone to merge, then you are not maintaining a safe distance. A moving violation, and points against your license. Like i said, TFB. Are you one of those that speed up to prevent merging that cause backups in the merge lane so people cannot get up to speed?
Oh, and to emphasize that point bnick:
2021 Maryland Statutes
Title 21 - Vehicle Laws -- Rules of the Road
Subtitle 3 - Driving on Right Side of Roadway; Overtaking and Passing; Use of Roadway
Section 21-310 - Following Too Closely
Universal Citation: MD. Transportation Code Ann. § 21-310 (2021)
(a) The driver of a motor vehicle may not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of the other vehicle and of the traffic on and the condition of the highway.
(b) Subject to the provisions of subsection (d) of this section, whenever conditions permit, the driver of every truck, while traveling on a roadway outside of a business district or a residential district and following any other truck or any other motor vehicle towing another vehicle, shall leave enough space so that an overtaking vehicle may enter and occupy the space without danger.
(c) Subject to the provisions of subsection (d) of this section, whenever conditions permit, the driver of every motor vehicle towing another vehicle, while traveling on a roadway outside of a business district or a residential district and following any other truck or any other motor vehicle towing another vehicle, shall leave enough space so that an overtaking vehicle may enter and occupy the space without danger.
(d) A truck or a motor vehicle towing another vehicle may overtake and pass any other vehicle or combination of vehicles.
(e) (1) This subsection does not apply to a funeral procession.
(2) A motor vehicle being driven on a roadway outside of a business district or a residential district in a caravan or motorcade, whether or not towing another vehicle, shall be driven to allow enough space between each two vehicles or combination of vehicles so that any other vehicle may enter and occupy the space without danger.
It is physically impossible to merge into a steady stream of traffic without hitting someone. People travel bumper to bumper in the right lane at well over speed limit all the time. You tell me your magic for margining into that unless someone slows to let you in.
There are always spaces. The key is to be driving a bit above the flow of traffic as you approach the merge so the space you are aiming for is ahead of you. As you slow down to the same speed as the traffic, you don't need much space.
There are not always spaces, and what happens when you are trying to merge at 65 mph and run out of on ramp? You tell me. Do you suddenly grow wings and fly?
I’m telling you, there are not always spaces but there are almost always cars speeding up in the right lane to make sure you can’t merge in front of them.
I am telling you that in more than 40 years of driving in every state of this country and a number of other countries besides (including pulling a trailer) I have always found a space. I have never run out of room or had to stop on an on ramp. Perhaps because I get up to speed quickly and start looking quite early? I don't know, but maybe you should re-think your approach to this driving skill.
More than 40 years driving here, and unlike you, no accidents. More aggressive driving is exactly what is wrong with 15. How many cars and trucks have you cut off while you race to get into a space that doesn’t exist, forcing cars to jam on their brakes or swerve? Oh, that’s right, you never look behind you to see.
Was the tanker truck cut off by an aggressive driver who “found a space” at 70 mph?
Yep, I know your kind of driver.
I do not force my way in, but perhaps I don't drive like a jerk so people don't speed up to block a space. Move quickly and move early. I am actually a very conscientious driver. It is not "aggressive" to merge into an appropriate space, and if you are going slower than the traffic into which you are merging, you will be aiming for a space that is BEHIND you, and therefore more difficult to see properly without spending too much time looking in your mirror and missing what is happening in front of you. Merge at the speed of traffic.
Clearly there are divers who don’t get up to speed and slip into an opening asap. They let the lane run out until they share and that’s it. If you rear-end, that’s on you, which is why merges are stressful. Grandma can’t turn her neck anymore or whatever. You are forced to be “courteous.” We can discuss it but it won’t fix the issue.
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