D.C. Drops Speed Limit to 20 MPH On Local Roads to Combat Reckless Driving
WASHINGTON – District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Friday that the default speed limit on local D.C. roads will be lowered from 25 to 20 mph.
The decision to lower the speed limit was prompted by an uptick in speeding on D.C. roads during the coronavirus pandemic, Bowser said. The changes are permanent and will go into effect on June 1.
“One thing that we have for sure learned with less traffic on the streets is that people are driving faster,” Bowser said during a press briefing. “And we see it all over.”
The announcement comes as the District enters the first phase of its reopening plan, which will allow a select number of businesses — including barber shops and restaurants — to resume operations while observing new social distancing guidelines.
Lowering the speed limit — even by 5 mph — will keep D.C. residents safe, Bowser said. “While it may seem like a small change, we know that surviving accidents is strongly correlated to speed,” she said. Last year, the District reduced the speed limit near schools and recreation centers to 15 mph.
Bowser also unveiled a new “Slow Streets” initiative that will restrict some areas with heavy foot and bicycle traffic to local car traffic only, while lowering the speed limit on those roads to 15 mph.
The District Department of Transportation has already been exploring ways to give residents more room to practice social distancing during the pandemic, like extending sidewalks near grocery stores and other businesses.
Many U.S. cities have adopted “Open Streets” plans to facilitate social distancing in public. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has opened 43 miles of roadways to cyclists and pedestrians. In Oregon, Portland has “repurposed” roughly 100 miles of neighborhood streets for pedestrians.
Meanwhile, Kansas City has launched an initiative that allows residents to apply for a permit to temporarily close neighborhood streets to through traffic.
Though coronavirus-related shutdowns have eased traffic conditions across the nation, a number of cities have seen a surge in speeding and reckless driving. Despite an 80% drop in congestion in Washington D.C., speeding violations for going 21-25 mph over the limit were up by 40% in April, according to a study by Forbes.
In many states, highway safety officials have reported severe spikes in speeding, with some noting a significant increase in vehicles going faster than 100 mph, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
The District has recently been cracking down on speeding and aggressive driving after a sharp increase in traffic fatalities in 2018. The District handed out nearly 3 million traffic tickets to motorists during fiscal year 2019, shattering records for previous years, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.
In The News
NEW YORK (AP) — David Dinkins, who broke barriers as New York City’s first African American mayor, but was doomed to a single term by a soaring murder rate, stubborn unemployment and his mishandling of a riot in Brooklyn, has died. He was 93. Dinkins died... Read More
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The raucous Mardi Gras parades where riders on elaborate floats toss trinkets to adoring throngs have been canceled in New Orleans because the close-packed crowds could spread the novel coronavirus. At least for 2021, the pandemic has put an end to the... Read More
CHICAGO – Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveiled an emergency coronavirus relief program for restaurants and bars in Chicago that are still grappling with the effects of the pandemic. The grant program will reallocate $10 million in CARES Act funds to businesses impacted by “state-imposed mitigation measures,” Lightfoot... Read More
The Washington Monument, closed for six months due to the coronavirus pandemic, will reopen to the public Thursday, Oct. 1. The National Park Service announced Monday that the monument will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, though it will close... Read More
WASHINGTON — Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser has garnered more attention than ever as a result of the city’s ongoing COVID crisis response and reopening efforts as well as widespread demonstrations against police violence in 2020. To be sure, as mayor of the city which is... Read More
NEW YORK, N.Y.- The City of New York on Monday implemented a new COVID "Response Team" to monitor the city's schools and hopefully prevent a resurgence of the coronavirus in one of the nation's hardest hit municipalities. The city's new COVID Response Situation Room is a... Read More