Audit suggests DC’s program of eliminating traffic deaths is not working

A new audit of D.C’s Vision Zero program, which aims to eliminate fatal and serious traffic deaths by 2024, suggests it’s not working.

The D.C. auditor’s report says the program is suffering from not enough funding as well as not enough staffing and oversight.

“That division wasn’t funded until 2020 with under a million dollars, although that grew over a million dollars the following year,” said D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson in a press conference.

The ambitious initiative kicked off in 2015. Since then, the report shows — in a chart with data from D.C. police — that traffic fatalities in the District have increased yearly except for 2019.

The report also found that from 2017 through 2021, Ward 8 was the deadliest ward for pedestrians and bicyclists with 42 deaths.

However, Patterson stated that the city has made strides when it comes to the equity of studying problems in all of D.C.’s wards.

“We found no difference in their conduct by median household income, which means the rich neighborhoods in the district did not command more traffic safety investigations than other communities,” Patterson said.

The audit does give D.C. credit for multiple initiatives, including reducing speed limits, banning right turns on red and adding bike lanes.

D.C. Council member Charles Allen said during the press conference the D.C. Council needs to allocate more funding for the program.

“I think if you talk to any resident in our city right now, we know the current state of traffic safety is unacceptable,” Allen said.

This audit focused mostly on infrastructure and policy changes D.C. has tried to reach its goals. Patterson said a second audit will be released soon on the enforcement and efforts by D.C. police.

Kyle Cooper

Weekend and fill-in anchor Kyle Cooper has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years, Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP, Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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