Aug 23, 2022 - News

D.C. drivers aren't slowing for school zones

Illustration of a checkered flag taped to a "SLOW" street sign.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

D.C. drivers are disregarding school zone speed limits and in particular, driving faster in lower-income communities, a traffic safety report found.

Why it matters: Schools return to session next week while the District still struggles with Vision Zero, its campaign to end traffic fatalities and serious injuries.

  • Last year, the city had the most traffic deaths since 2007. So far this year, the number is down 12%.

Zoom in: Around schools, signage and road markings did not make much of a difference in deterring speeding and preventing crashes, the study from GM Future Roads and INRIX Research found.

  • The study looked at areas within a quarter-mile of 27 schools over four quadrants and income levels.

In Southeast and Southwest, a higher percentage of drivers sped through school zones between 8am and 10pm, the data shows.

  • Citywide, 20% of drivers drove 10 mph or more above the 15 mph school zone speed limit. Twenty-two percent and 27% of drivers in Southeast and Southwest, respectively, drove that fast.

What they’re saying: “It’s going to take a lot more than lowering speed limits” around school zones, including redesigning streets and finding specific treatments for individual schools, said INRIX report author Bob Pishue.

  • The report also found inconsistencies across school zones, with “various lengths, signage, and instructions" often causing confusion.

What’s next: Mayor Muriel Bowser plans to increase D.C. police presence around schools in response to traffic scofflaws, noted the Washington Post, which first wrote about the report. The city will also add more crossing guards and traffic cameras.


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