Protecting Pedestrians and Bicyclists in Washington D.C.
In 2015, the newly elected mayor of Washington, D.C., promised to lead the nation’s capital into an era free of traffic fatalities.
“We are taking our first step toward realizing a ‘Vision Zero’ where no lives are lost on our streets or at our intersections,’’ said Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, in her speech setting a goal of zero pedestrian deaths by 2024.
Unfortunately, since that announcement, the number of traffic fatalities has steadily increased, not only in the nation’s capital, but across the country after decades of improvement, especially among pedestrians, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).
Nearly 6,000 pedestrians were estimated to have died in 2016, a 33-year high, according to the GHSA. The report cited distracted drivers using mobile devices and more vehicles on the road as causes.
In Washington, where Vision Zero is one of the mayor’s priorities, 30 traffic fatalities occurred last year, up from 28 in 2016, and 26 in 2015. Of those killed on D.C. streets last year, nearly 40 percent were pedestrians.
“The news nationally is not good,’’ said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the GHSA, noting that the 6,000 fatalities represent a nearly 50-percent increase since 2009.
More than 30 cities across the country are part of the Vision Zero initiative, modeled after a Swedish program aimed at eliminating fatalities and serious injuries. The program’s strategies focus on enforcement, public education, street engineering and data collection.
Few are willing to assign a single cause to the increase in traffic deaths, but they commonly include alcohol, speed and distracted driving as contributing factors. Studies also underline the dangers of distractions among pedestrians, including texting while walking.
Government and law enforcement officials in the D.C. Metro area have been targeting speeding by reinforcing their speed-camera programs and lowering speed limits in some corridors. They also have identified the most dangerous intersections and created task forces to study each fatal crash. Officials are also retrofitting at least 36 intersections that have dual turn lanes and where engineers have found a pattern of pedestrian injuries.
If you are in need of a personal injury attorney for a pedestrian or bicycle accident, contact the Law Offices of Stuart Plotnick, LLC. We proudly serve the legal needs of people in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.