D.C.'s Official Pedestrian Advocacy Body

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Next Meeting: February 22, 2016

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Increased fines for dangerous driving will be focus of Council hearing

A hearing on proposed Vision Zero regulations will be held on Friday, Jan. 8, with increasing traffic fines likely to dominate the discussion. The Committee on Transportation and the Environment, chaired by Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, will conduct the hearing at 11 a.m. at the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Room 500.

Some of the regulations that could impact pedestrians include:

  • Requiring side guards on large trucks
  • Clarifying the 15 mph rule around school zones, playgrounds, recreation centers and senior centers
  • Increasing the fine for drivers to $1,000 (up from $300) for driving 25 mph over the speed limit
  • Increasing the fine for drivers to $200 (up from $50) for failing to yield right-of-way to a pedestrian
  • Increasing the fine for drivers to $200 (up from $50) for violating a “No Turn on Red” sign
  • Increasing the fine for drivers to $500 (up from $250) for overtaking a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk or intersection for a pedestrian


Click on this link to read the full list of proposed regulations:

Anyone wishing to testify at the hearing or submit comments should contact Aukima Benjamin, staff assistant to the committee, at abenjamin@dccouncil.us. The record will remain open until Jan. 22. The hearing can also be watched live on the DC Council website http://dccouncil.us.

The regulations are part of a flurry of activities around the District’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to reduce to zero the number of traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries by 2024.

At a press conference on Dec. 16, Mayor Muriel Bowser released the Vision Zero action plan. Some highlights of the action plan address the following issues:

  • Safe streets – improve methodology to guide street design and countermeasures
  • Vulnerable users – enhance data collection to identify sidewalk repairs needed; identify dangerous bus locations and fix at least 10 per year;
  • Dangerous driving – strategically deploy photo enforcement cameras; boot vehicles owned by drivers with two or more unpaid citations related to dangerous driving
  • Transparent & responsive – publish crash and safety data on the Vision Zero website; establish a multi-agency response team for crashes resulting in fatalities or disabling injuries


Click on this link to read the entire action plan:

Earlier in the fall, the Committee on Transportation and the Environment held a hearing on three bills that could improve safety for pedestrians. Cheh stated at that hearing that the three bills would be combined to resolve differences and create a coherent package of proposals for the Council to consider. Below you will find links to the three individual bills.

B21-0335, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015

B21-0383, the Vision Zero Act of 2015

B21-0021, the Enhanced Penalties for Distracted Driving Amendment Act of 2015

Discussion at the hearing on the bills covered the creation of bicycle and pedestrian priority areas, the danger of hands-free devices, the low use of interlock ignition devices in the District, and debate around reducing the speed limit to 20 mph.

Pedestrian Advisory Council (PAC) representative Eileen McCarthy testified at the hearing. You can read her testimony here:

The PAC later submitted more detailed comments:

The PAC will discuss Vision Zero regulations, bills and the action plan at its next meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 25 at 441 4th Street NW, Room 1117.


Council considers safety measures


The DC Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment will hold a hearing on December 8 on bills that may improve conditions for pedestrians.

Following is the list of and links to the four bills being discussed, the first three of which could impact pedestrians directly:
  • B21-0335, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015;
  • B21-0383, the Vision Zero Act of 2015;
  • B21-0021, the Enhanced Penalties for Distracted Driving Amendment Act of 2015;
  • B21-0029, the Failure to Yield for Emergency Vehicles Amendment Act of 2015


Among other topics, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015 would address:
  • crash data reporting by DDOT
  • moving infraction reporting by MPD
  • notifications about sidewalk closures
  • traffic calming requests
  • creation of pedestrian and bicycle priority areas
  • adoption of a Complete Streets policy
  • for-hire vehicle operator training
  • increasing penalties for repeat offenders of moving violations
  • creating an aggressive driving offense

The Vision Zero Act of 2015 would:
  • adopt a Complete Streets policy
  • enhance penalties for all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes
  • increase penalties for impaired driving
  • increase the fine for distracted driving from $100 to $500


The Enhanced Penalties for Distracted Driving Amendment Act of 2015 would escalate fines for multiple distracted driving offenses within 18 months from $100 to $200 to $400.

A member of the DC Pedestrian Advisory Council will testify on behalf of the PAC at the December 8 hearing. The testimony will be available on the PAC website following the hearing. See the minutes from the PAC's November 23 meeting to read about our discussion of the four bills.

The hearing on the four bills will be at 11 a.m. on December 8 at the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Room 500. The hearing is open to the public. If you would like to comment on the bills, you may sign up to testify by contacting Ms. Aukima Benjamin, staff assistant to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, at (202) 724-8062 or via e-mail at abenjamin@dccouncil.us. Comments may also be submitted in writing.

Alcohol and speed were significant factors in traffic deaths nationwide

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released findings from its study of 2014 crash data and reported that 4,884 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes on U.S. roadways last year.

In total, 32,675 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2014. Among those:
  • Alcohol-impaired driving was reported in 31% of the fatalities
  • Speed-related crashes caused 28% of the fatalities
  • Distracted driving was reported in 10% of the fatalities


In the District of Columbia, 12 pedestrians were killed in 2014. The DC Pedestrian Advisory Council (PAC) learned at its November meeting that the 2015 statistic will be higher. Of 26-28 traffic fatalities so far in 2015, 75% have been pedestrians.

In a news report by WTOP on the NHTSA, PAC Co-Chair Tony Goodman said clearer crosswalk signs and striping might help keep pedestrians safer. “That’s something that could really help pedestrians and, of course, also helps drivers to have more awareness and better visibility for the pedestrians, too,” he said.

Proposed legislation being considered by the DC Council in December would increase penalties for driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol and for distracted driving. None of the legislation being considered would lower speed limits or increase penalties for speeding.


For more coverage of the NHTSA findings, see reports by WAMU and The Washington Post.