- (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
D.C. lays claim to just six traffic fatalities this year as of May 11, according to the police department, compared to 14 traffic fatalities at this time last year. That's a drop of 57.1% and an encouraging sign, quietly spotlighted in the department's weekly newsletter among many other crime statistics.
This drop in traffic fatalities suggests that perhaps all our initiatives, from traffic safety officers to better biking infrastructure to signs warning against blocking the box and educating drivers about safety through concerted local campaigns and broader regional efforts like Street Smart, may have an effect. Last year there were 32 traffic fatalities total, 25 the year before that, and 33 the year before that. Those numbers are already much lower than the numbers of killed commuters in years past — like the 69 D.C. traffic fatalities of 2003, for instance. We're nearly halfway through the year, and six dead is, while obviously still unfortunate and a tragedy to be avoided, putting us on track for what may be a record low. It's less than half of the fatalities at this time last year, and if our streets stay as safe in the second half of 2012, we'll have the lowest number of fatalities as of at least the last 17 years. Will it be possible to one day end traffic deaths? Gabe Klein, former director of the District Department of Transportation, believes yes and hopes to achieve zero deaths within 10 years in Chicago, where he currently leads transportation initiatives.
Another more controversial tactic in D.C.'s broader strategy of traffic safety is the expanded use of automated traffic enforcement cameras. You all know the talk of speed cameras, red light cameras. D.C. Mayor Vince Gray has said he would welcome speed cameras all over our city to help ensure traffic safety. Earlier this month, the MPD announced another 20+ speed cameras that'll begin issuing tickets starting June 6, 2012, as the Post noted earlier today. Here's those locations and their speed limits: