Road safety blitz underway in DC with rise of traffic-related deaths

WASHINGTON — It can be a dangerous time of the year on roads with heavier traffic, lower sun angles, shorter days and more pedestrians. Days before trick-or-treaters hit the streets, D.C. police and traffic enforcement officers have redoubled efforts to enforce the rules of the road.

A weeklong traffic enforcement blitz is underway throughout the District, prompted by concerns over a spike in traffic-related fatalities over 2017.

“This blitz includes the enforcement of bike lane, excessive speed, motor carrier and crosswalk violations,” said D.C. police spokesperson Kristen Metzger. She added that D.C. police have fanned out looking for alcohol-related violations as well.

Over the weekend, the police department’s Special Operations Division took part in enforcing the dangers of alcohol impairment while driving in busy night life areas such as Adams Morgan.

“As part of the mayor’s Vision Zero reset, the Metropolitan Police Department is conducting a District-wide traffic safety blitz that will go through October 31,” Metzger said.

It’s been a deadly year in the District. With 31 people having died in traffic collisions since January, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has pushed the reset button on her “Vision Zero” initiative, an ambitious plan to end all traffic deaths by 2024.

Although the number of deaths isn’t as grim as those experienced early last decade, they have been steadily climbing since 2014.

At a joint public roundtable last month, D.C. council members, advocates for pedestrian safety and crash victims were highly critical of the District Department of Transportation and law enforcement officials, accusing them of endless studies, patchy infrastructure upgrades and a lack of traffic enforcement.

For its part, the District Department of Public Works has stepped up enforcement in certain areas since last week.

“Of the 13,426 citations issued by DPW parking enforcement officers between October 25 and 28, 1,454 were for infractions that create unsafe conditions for District cyclists,” Chris Shorter, director of the District Department of Public Works, said in a statement.

Shorter said the thousands of citations were written for offenses including double-parking, obstructing crosswalks, parking too close to an intersection, parking in a loading zone, parking too close to a stop sign, parking in a no parking zone and stopping/standing in a bike lane.

Earlier this month, a large group of cyclists gathered at Farragut Square to bring attention to fellow rider Thomas Hollowell, who was killed on Constitution Avenue after he was struck by a driver. D.C. police later located and charged the man they said killed Hollowell.

U.S. Park Police, along with other law enforcement agencies, also held a three-day bus safety inspection in East Potomac Park earlier this month.

Dave Dildine

A native to the Washington area, Dave Dildine is no stranger to the region's complex traffic and weather patterns. Dave joined WTOP in 2010 when the station launched its very own in-house traffic service. You can hear him "on the 8s and when it breaks" from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.

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