Many DC drivers speed in school zones, study says

Many drivers in the District speed through school zones and ignore signs that tell them to slow down, according to a new report from the traffic analytics company INRIX.

The company said that it examined “the road network around 27 schools in D.C.” because of the “increased attention being paid to streets around schools.”

Researchers looked specifically at traffic data from the first quarter of 2022 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., when children typically arrived for class in the morning.

“In recent years, Washington, D.C., officials have continued to prioritize safety around schools, and more is needed in this area to link causes and effects of speeding and traffic-related injuries around schools directly,” the company said.

According to the study, about 20% of drivers went at least 10 mph above the 15 mph speed limit that is posted in school zones.

“More speeding is occurring around schools with lower-income students than higher-income students,” the study found.

For example, roughly 24% of drivers near schools in lower-income areas traveled faster than 25 mph in the 15 mph areas, compared with 17% near schools in upper-income areas, according to the report.

The report found that 22% of drivers went at least 10 mph above the speed limit around schools in Southeast D.C., compared with 14% in Northeast D.C.

“Speeding and crash rates didn’t vary much between school zone and non-school zone streets,” the study found.

However, school zone designation did appear to have a marginal effect on injury severity, as fatalities and major injuries were lower in school zones.

“Compared to vehicle-miles traveled (VMT), crashes and the number of people involved in crashes were slightly over-represented — with 33% of both occurring on streets that have school zones,” according to the study.

Fatalities and major injuries were underrepresented, with 13% and 20% respectively occurring
in areas that have school zones.

Researchers noted that school zones have various lengths, signage and instructions, which can lead to confusion for drivers.

For instance, On Martin Luther King Jr. Ave Southwest near the Leckie Education Campus, there is a 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. time band heading southbound, but a 15 mph “When Flashing” sign heading northbound.

“Analysis showed 75% of vehicles traveled faster than 20 mph southbound, while 57% of vehicles traveled faster than 20 mph northbound,” according to the study.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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