- The Washington Times - Monday, November 29, 2021

D.C. officials announced Monday that they will add safety measures around school zones during times of high foot traffic starting this week.

The Metropolitan Police Department is assigning seven officers to focus on traffic enforcement around schools in each police district. They will cover the zones three hours before school starts, two hours during school times and three hours after students are dismissed, police Chief Robert J. Contee III said.

“We have heard from parents about concerns in school areas regarding reckless motorists while young children are traveling to and from school,” Chief Contee said. “We have heard from the community, and they want to see our streets safer for all of us who use D.C. roadways.”

Officers will focus on pedestrian and stop-sign violations, speeding and distracted driving in school zones. They will be working overtime in order to conduct these traffic safety measures, the chief said. School resource officers will hand out traffic safety information to roadway users in school areas.

Two children, a 5-year-old and a 4-year-old, died in traffic crashes this year, Chief Contee said. In October, two children and their father were hit by a car in Southeast D.C. In September, a 5-year-old girl was fatally hit by a van while riding her bike in Northeast, according to media reports. A 4-year-old boy died in April after being hit by a car in Northwest, WUSA9 reported.

“Increased enforcement means more people will get stopped, and the people who will get stopped are the people who aren’t following the rules,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said. “We want it safer for kids to cross the street to get to school, for seniors and for everybody.

“So what we ask is that you follow our traffic laws,” she said. “Stop speeding on our streets. Stop running stop signs on our streets. Stop running red lights. Stop driving aggressively. Stop using your phones. Stop texting.

“We all have to recognize that we have a responsibility when it comes to making our streets safer,” she said. 

As of Monday, 195 drivers, 86 pedestrians and 17 bicyclists in the District have been seriously injured in traffic collisions this year, according to data from Vision Zero, a transportation safety campaign. Thirty-eight people have died.

Last year, 203 drivers, 86 pedestrians and 34 bicyclists suffered major injuries from traffic collisions and 37 people died, tallies from Vision Zero show.

D.C. officials in October said they are looking to hire 40 crossing guards as part of an effort to make city streets safer.

The city also is trying to speed up plans to improve intersections for pedestrian safety, such as installing speed humps, stop signs and “right-turn hardening measures” following recent incidents of pedestrians being struck by vehicles. 

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has been installing more speed humps, stop signs and right turn hardening measures at various locations. 

DDOT also plans to convert two-way intersections with stop signals to all-way intersections with stop signals, in addition to improving other signage and pavement markings such as high-visibility crosswalks.

The transportation department also intends to focus on 100 intersections in the city’s high-crash, high-injury corridors each year moving forward.

Miss Bowser said in October that city officials were working to streamline road safety projects and aiming to complete 50 projects in six weeks.

• Shen Wu Tan can be reached at stan@washingtontimes.com.

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