- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 8, 2006

The number of pedestrian fatalities in the District this year already has equaled last year’s total, and community leaders are calling for a crackdown on speeders on the east side of the city and other safety measures.

Sixteen pedestrians have been killed in the District so far this year, the Metropolitan Police Department reported. The number of pedestrian deaths increased to 16 last year from 10 in 2004.

The most recent fatality occurred late last month. Catera Lawrence, 4, of Southeast died a day after she was struck by a vehicle in the 4500 block of Benning Road Northeast while crossing the street with an adult relative.

Terry Lynch, executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, said he has long advocated stronger traffic-calming measures, especially in Northeast and Southeast.

Of the 16 pedestrian fatalities this year, 10 have occurred in those two quadrants. During a six-week stretch in January and February, six fatalities were reported, including three in one weekend in February.

“This tragedy only highlights the great risk District residents are at, particularly those living east of the [Anacostia] River,” Mr. Lynch said. “Pedestrian facilities will occur, but the city must do more to reduce speed on some of these streets, increase education both of pedestrians and drivers and offer increased enforcement — particularly on these treacherous stretches which are well known as dangerous and most likely to have both car accidents and pedestrian injuries or fatalities.”

Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey agreed that education about pedestrian, driving and biking safety could be increased, but he rebutted the notion that the District hasn’t attacked the issue as fervently in the two eastern quadrants.

“Pedestrian safety is a concern across the city,” he said yesterday. “Enforcement can always be increased as well as education, [but] the primary way to avoid pedestrian fatalities is for drivers and pedestrians to be alert.”

Studies of D.C. intersections where the incidence of pedestrian accidents is high show that fewer than half of drivers yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.

At least eight of the 16 pedestrians killed last year were at fault, the police department said.

“Drivers should slow down and pedestrians should use crosswalks, not wear dark colors at night and not assume drivers are aware of their presence,” Chief Ramsey said.

The city needs to analyze the placement of streetlights and Metro’s bus stops, he said.

Chief Ramsey said one effective tool is the city’s “Street Smart” initiative. The annual campaign, sponsored by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, was initiated in 2002. Officials aggressively enforce laws for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists, and distribute posters, pamphlets and other educational materials, including Spanish-language versions.

Mr. Lynch said the “Street Smart” campaign is insufficient and that the city relies too heavily upon automated traffic enforcement to regulate safety.

City officials have said enforcement cameras are effective safety measures, although evidence does not show they reduce accidents.

The District has 10 speed-enforcement cameras at fixed locations and 12 camera-equipped vehicles rotating through nearly 80 enforcement zones, mostly in Northeast and Southeast.

The city also has 49 red-light cameras, primarily in Northwest.

The yearly total of pedestrians killed has fluctuated since 2000, when 18 deaths were reported. Fatalities decreased by five the next year and five again in 2002 before returning to 18 in 2003.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide