News & Politics

Traffic-Related Deaths in DC Have Nearly Doubled Since Last Year

Twenty-three people have been killed in car accidents in 2013 already.

The rate of traffic-related deaths in DC this year is nearly twice where it was at this point last year, according to Metropolitan Police Department statistics. Through September 25, traffic accidents having killed 23 people, compared with 12 through that point in 2012. AAA Mid-Atlantic adds that the number of traffic fatalities so far this year already exceeds the total for all of last year, when the District recorded 19 traffic deaths, the lowest figure in decades.

AAA Mid-Atlantic says no specific incident is to blame for the upward trend. “The city has made significant strides in terms of improving traffic safety for all highway users—motorists, pedestrians, school children, the elderly, motorcyclists, and cyclists,” AAA spokesman John B. Townsend said in a press release.

Last year, the District was an outlier in a year in which 33,780 people were killed in traffic accidents nationally, a 4.4 percent jump from 2011. DC is also bucking the trend this year, though in the opposite direction. Through the first quarter of 2013, an estimated 7,200 people across the United States were killed in car accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Between the traffic and number of stop lights, the District’s surface streets are not exactly speedways, and the city government continues to expand its use of automated cameras to ticket drivers who break the speed limit or run red lights. Officials and safety advocates point to the cameras’ effect of making drivers more cautious, and the DC government—which also enjoyed more than $95 million in revenue from the cameras in the 2012 fiscal year—is rapidly installing the devices at more and more intersections.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.