In D.C., a push to halt pedestrian traffic deaths

On Monday, police targeted a 14th Street crossing near U Street NW in front of a Trader Joe's grocery store for the latest enforcement.

WASHINGTON — In a blue-striped polo shirt and blue jeans, plain clothes D.C. Police Sgt. Terry Thorne carried a police radio and stepped into the crosswalk on busy 14th St. NW.

Drivers must stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. But, immediately, two did not. Many others would also get pulled over in the Monday afternoon traffic sting.  

“OK, a gray truck and a gray Mercedes,” Sgt. Thorne radioed a team of officers a half-block away. 

“Both of them were in my lane with me,” Thorne told officers, ready to write tickets that carry fines as high as $250 and three points on a driver’s license.

“It is a very serious violation because a 4,000-pound car and a person — they’re no match,” said George Branyan, pedestrian program coordinator at the D.C. Department of Transportation.

Police targeted a 14th Street crossing near U Street NW in front of a Trader Joe’s grocery store for the latest enforcement. But police and traffic safety experts say there are many city intersections where revitalized neighborhoods have brought more stores and restaurants, and thus more pedestrians and raised the risks.

“We need to be heads up everywhere,” said Eileen McCarthy, Ward 3 representative of the D.C. Pedestrian Advisory Council. “Under D.C. law, any crosswalk is a place where pedestrians always have the right of way.”

Pedestrians have responsibilities, too.

“The duty of a pedestrian in D.C. law is to not step in front of a vehicle that is so close it can’t stop,” Branyan said. He also advises pedestrians to pay attention when crossing. distracted.

“I don’t recommend anyone cross the street when they’re distracted, whether they’re reading a book, looking at their texts or have their earbuds in,” Branyan said.

Last year, 1,100 pedestrians were struck by vehicles in D.C. There were 15 pedestrians and one bicyclist killed in city traffic crashes last year.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

© 2016 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.