Dangerous Crosswalks in D.C.: Ten Deaths | DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog

As reported recently by the Washington Post, the District of Columbia is implementing new enforcement techniques in efforts to improve pedestrian safety, following the deaths of ten people walking on District streets this year. The District ranks second for pedestrian injures among U.S. cities in the proportion of commutes by foot, with an average of 550 walkers being hit on D.C. streets each year. As of this year, the District’s 10 pedestrian deaths, account for 43 percent of all traffic fatalities. 

The new enforcement techniques include: District police officers working undercover to test driver’s compliance with pedestrian safety laws; setting up speed bumps and rumble strips throughout the District, to reduce speed; installing countdown signals at over 1,300 intersections, with plans to add hundreds more; and educating pedestrians and drivers through the Street Smart publicity campaign, which aims to increase safety awareness among pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists through radio spots and posters on buses and bus shelters. 

Drivers who do not allow pedestrians the right of way, can expect various warnings and citations including, being pulled over, given pedestrian safety literature and issued citations ranging from $50.00 – $500.00 and/or driving record points. 

Under D.C. law, pedestrians crossing the street at an intersection without a signal always have the right of way, and vehicles must stop to let them pass. That is the case whether the crossing area is marked – with stripes or horizontal lines – or is unmarked. Pedestrians also have responsibilities, including waiting for the walk signal, using crosswalks and not leaving the curb so abruptly that cars cannot stop for them.

The D.C. Transportation Department and D.C. Police Department suggest the following pedestrian safety for driver’s tips:

At Crosswalks and Intersections without Signals:

  • The driver of a vehicle must stop and yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
  • Penalty for violations: $50.00 and two points, up to $500.00 and/or up to 30 days in jail.

At Intersections with Signals:

  • When proceeding on a green signal, drivers turning right or left must yield the right of way to pedestrians lawfully within the crosswalk.
  • When turning right on red after stopping, drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians lawfully within the crosswalk.
  • Penalty for violation: $50.00 and two points.