« Where's the old Bicycle Patent Building? | Main | 16th Street NW Transit Priority Planning Study »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I think raising the fines for getting caught doing the riskiest things is about as helpful as reminding cyclists and pedestrians to "stay visible" or "wear helmets". Higher fines don't get at the root of the problem, but it would be a definite action that signals the problem will not be ignored.

Or the other way: pulling back from these fines tells US how committed DDOT and Council really are about improving road safety.

If Mary Cheh, the AAA, DDOT, and MPD have heard the case for raising fines and believe raising certainty of enforcement is better, they have to deliver that and not just tell us they won't stiffen the penalties meant to deter illegal behaviors that account for less than 1% of the citations issued.

Is there a possibility that higher fines would lead to more enforcement?

Right now the common believe is that MPD is is not very interested in doing traffic enforcement.

While walking it is common for me to have to dodge numerous cars refusing to yield to me in the crosswalk. Sometimes this occurs in front of police officers. Never seen a motorist pulled over yet!

Isn't it odd that people can protest increases of fines for speeding *25 mph over the limit* and no one in the major media points out how strange this is?

It would be like if I were planning a murder and went to a meeting protesting that the minimum sentence for murder was being raised.

It's basically an admission that you are planning on breaking the law and want to get off lightly, yet no one seems to note how absurd it is.

Well, two things have to happen. Police officers have to learn to take these kinds of violations seriously; and fines have to be high enough to inflict a little pain when assessed. It doesn't matter if officers start issuing citations, if they can be made to go away by payment of $25 or $50; and huge fines don't matter if officers think the violation is BS and never write it up.

The important thing, I think, is to make it a point to punish risky behavior, not just (the far less frequent) bad outcomes.

Aside from the obvious point about enforcement, I think in order to know whether fines/higher fines will deter these violations, we need to who's committing them. Is it a broad distribution of rare occurrences or are most of the violations committed by a core of habitual offenders? In the second case, punishment might be effective more. Anyone have any info?

That's a great question! Though I'm not sure which way it cuts. I was thinking that if the violations were broadly distributed, higher fines (with at least no lessening of enforcement) would drive up the cost calculus for the driver who, maybe, just needs a proper disincentive, just a little greater push in the right direction. But on the flip side the habitual offenders would start racking up some big traffic bills and maybe take greater care. I dunno. Surely someone has actually studied this?

Today a pedestrian was struck at 17th & L NW, by a hit-and-run driver. Casual reports say she was seriously injured and is expected to live.

Running the reported tag through public sources shows that car has racked up 8 outstanding traffic tickets since June. 3 were red light cameras, 5 were speeding, and all but two were within a few blocks of 17th & L. Total tab (before today), $1,690.

Maybe what high fine opponents are really telling us is that $1,000 fines won't make a difference TO THEM. They'll STILL let these dangerous drivers roam our streets even if the fine is a million dollars.

(Caveats: the plate could be wrong, and even if not there's no way to know if this is one driver or several. There's plenty of reason to be mad that this Maryland plate keeps breaking DC laws, but even more to be mad that nobody is tracking this car down.)

Total tab (before today), $1,690.

That's presuming the driver/owner is bothering to pay the fines. I learned that neither Maryland nor Virginia grants DC recourse for unpaid violations.

So DC has to hope that someday they spot the car parked on the street and can boot it. If the driver usually parks in a garage then they may never have to pay the fines.

3,500 is about 10 cars per day, going 25 MPH over the posted limit.

Some of those are likely repeats, so either (a) everyone who got caught is now complaining or (b) enforcement is already so lax people are afraid they will get caught with monies spent on new enforcement.

Either way, I have trouble seeing the downside to ignoring those scofflaws.

But--if they insist on not raising the fines so much--the clear solution is to increase the points for the violation.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Banner design by creativecouchdesigns.com

City Paper's Best Local Bike Blog 2009


 Subscribe in a reader