D.C. officials said yesterday that they have started a new traffic-safety campaign and will install more “countdown” street-crossing signals to reduce the number of pedestrian accidents and deaths in the city.
“We are asking radio stations and other media outlets to join with us to remind readers, viewers and listeners to drive, walk and bike safely this holiday season,” Mayor Anthony A. Williams said. “While the effort is ongoing, we’re making a special emphasis on safety during the holidays, when so many people are moving around.”
The campaign, which started in the middle of the month and will continue through the first of next year, comes as the city reports 16 pedestrian-related deaths this year, compared with 10 last year.
“We want to make sure this is a bump in the road,” said D.C. Transportation Director Dan Tangherlini.
Mr. Tangherlini said the number of pedestrian fatalities continues to decrease, despite the increase this year. He said roughly 12 pedestrians die each year on city streets, which is about half the number in the early 1990s. He said the overall number of traffic deaths also has decreased.
About 1,200 city intersections have traffic signals that count down the number of seconds before the red light changes. And the remaining 25 percent, or roughly 400 intersections, should have them by the end of next year, transportation officials said last week.
The Washington Times reported earlier this month on the increased number of pedestrian fatalities this year, despite an aggressive enforcement campaign this summer, know as Street Smart, that targeted jaywalkers, bicyclists and motorists.
The city has issued about 1,600 tickets for pedestrian traffic violations this year. About 90 percent of them were written as part of the four-year-old Street Smart program.
According to the Metropolitan Police Department, at least eight of the pedestrians killed this year were at fault.
D.C. Transportation Department statistics show Alabama Avenue and Stanton Road in Southeast had nine pedestrian accidents from 2002 to 2004, making it the most dangerous intersection in the city for pedestrians.
However, only 117 of the 1,944 pedestrian accidents during that period occurred in the District’s 20 most-dangerous intersections.
Two of the 10 most-dangerous intersections for pedestrians are in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods. The Street Smart program, featuring educational components such as posters and pamphlets, includes Spanish-language versions.
Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey has said the increased number of pedestrian deaths shows that ticket writing is not enough.