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 The record will remain open until Jan. 22. The hearing can also be watched live on the DC Council website

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.