Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Washington, DC’s poorest communities have been struck with a new crisis: deadly driving and increases in fatal pedestrian accidents. In a February 2022 report by the Washington Post, some of the lowest-income neighborhoods in the District recorded eight times more traffic fatalities than the city’s wealthiest communities. Most often, these low-income neighborhoods including wards 7 and 8 and those east of the Anacostia River, are majority-Black neighborhoods with obvious infrastructure issues, further increasing the prominence of DC traffic deaths.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a bump in traffic deaths in DC, this 14-year trend has caused many to wonder what is being done to protect pedestrians in our nation’s capital.
In 2021, 40 people died in Washington, DC with half occurring in these two poorest wards, even though it only accounts for one-quarter of Washington’s population. Despite 2020 and 2021 having the lowest traffic crashes because of the pandemic’s impact on driving rates, these years also saw the highest number of fatalities.
Not only did pandemic-induced recklessness behind the wheel cause pedestrian deaths to increase, but it also disproportionately caused a spike in collisions involving children. This has called for support for tougher repercussions for unsafe drivers. Yet, the current legislation has not made great strides in protecting pedestrians.
Further, experts have weighed in on the issue saying that the fast roadways in these neighborhoods and lack of investment in upgraded infrastructure have only hurt pedestrians more. In addition, the use of public transit, which is not as common in some of the more suburban communities, is divided by busy commuter routes and intersections.
These high-speed roads are most to blame for these DC traffic deaths and the wealth disparities in the neighborhoods. In addition, impaired driving accounts for 20 percent of fatal crashes and distracted driving has also proven to be a large factor in these pedestrian deaths.
Currently, Washington, DC’s Department of Transportation has the Vision Zero Initiative in place. The goal of Vision Zero is to “reach zero fatalities and serious injuries to travelers of our transportation system, through more effective use of data, education, enforcement, and engineering.” This is to be accomplished by 2024.
This came in response to the US Department of Transportation’s Mayor’s Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets. The nationwide goal is to improve pedestrian and bicycle transportation safety via state and local initiatives.
Further, the District puts out the Annual Safety Program (ASAP) to enact multimodal safety improvement. These improvements and programs include:
You can see the currently completed and underway improvements on the ASAP dashboard.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has also called for greater enforcement and education programs to help reduce pedestrian traffic fatalities.
With less than two years to complete Vision Zero, members of these impacted communities have called upon lawmakers to move quickly in implementing pedestrian safety measures and safer driving enforcement.
According to the Washington Post, earlier this year, almost three dozen neighborhood commissioners from the city’s eight wards signed a petition urging the DC Council to move forward with the improvements including raised crosswalks, expanded school zones, and greater traffic enforcement.
With so many of the victim’s families looking for answers, pressure has been put on local police departments as well. Of the 40 crashes in 2021, only three arrests were made. Unfortunately, when a collision is a single-vehicle accident, these cases are ruled the fault of the pedestrian.
Despite the unfortunate trend in some DC pedestrian fatalities to place blame on the deceased, these accidents are often the result of a negligent driver. Common causes of fatal pedestrian accidents include:
When the driver is at fault in these accidents, the victims or the families have a right to recover compensation for their losses.
Depending on the situation, you may be able to seek medical coverage from your car insurance policy as a pedestrian. But, if you do not have car insurance or your insurance is not enough to cover your expenses, you can pursue legal action against the negligent driver.
If you were injured or lost a loved one as a result of a hit-and-run collision, a Washington, DC pedestrian accident attorney from Regan Zambri Long can help you find alternative options for financial recovery, even if you do not know who the negligent driver was.
If you were involved in a pedestrian accident in Washington, DC, you may be able to recover the following forms of compensation:
However, keep in mind that if you accept a settlement from the insurance companies you cannot pursue additional compensation, further, you must act quickly to even be eligible for compensation. The statute of limitations in Washington, DC, is three years to file a pedestrian accident claim against the liable party. But know that if you were partially to blame, you may struggle to recover any compensation which is why you must work with an attorney right away to preserve evidence, establish negligence, and build your claim.
Despite the District’s best efforts to meet the goals of Vision Zero, we still are not there yet. This is why it is important to have a legal team on your side who can protect you and your loved ones if someone gets hurt or is killed in a pedestrian accident.
At Regan Zambri Long, our attorneys work tirelessly to protect and fight for the rights of pedestrian accident victims throughout Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as those living in Anacostia.
We know that the increase in pedestrian fatalities has many people worried about their loved ones making their daily commutes. We also know that there is more that needs to be done to protect our most vulnerable communities.
The pedestrian accident lawyers of Regan Zambri Long have a long track record of securing our clients’ large settlements and verdicts in their favor. The cost of a pedestrian accident is more than the financial strain; it impacts your entire family for years to come.
If you or a loved one were injured, or if you have lost a loved one as a result of an Anacostia pedestrian accident and are still searching for justice on their behalf, Regan Zambri Long can help you.
We work on a contingency fee basis which means there is no upfront cost to you until a settlement or verdict is reached meaning you have nothing to lose. For a no-obligation, free consultation, contact the fatal edestrian accident attorneys of Regan Zambri Long at 202-960-4596 or by connecting with us online.Tagged Anacostia, DC Traffic Deaths