News Release: Silverman Introduces Two Bills to Make D.C. Streets Safer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C. — D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) introduced a package of road safety bills Wednesday that would reduce dangerous, high-speed driving in the District by taking routinely reckless drivers off the road and requiring speed limiters on District government non-emergency vehicles.
The first bill, the Reckless Driver Accountability Act of 2022, authorizes the District to boot or impound any car that has five moving violation tickets, or three tickets for speeding by more than 25 miles per hour over the speeding limit or running a red light, even if the tickets are paid. Owners can avoid the impoundment or retrieve their car from the impound lot by taking a restorative-justice-based driver education class. The bill is based on an initiative in New York City that, according to early research, has reduced dangerous driving incidents among participants by up to 40 percent.
“We need to get reckless drivers off the road until they change their behavior,” Silverman said. “That needs to be the focus. We can issue speeding tickets, but if drivers keep getting them and there are no consequences, that doesn’t get us to our goal of making streets safer.”
The “reckless driver” class would feature small group sessions, with an emphasis on reducing harmful driving behavior by helping drivers understand the impact of their actions. Paying off fines would not be enough to get a car back – owners would have to complete the course to get out of the impound lot.
The second bill, the Speed Limiters Amendment Act of 2022, requires the installation of speed limiters, or “governors,” on the District government’s roughly 3,000 non-emergency vehicles. These limiters would prohibit the vehicles from driving over 40 miles per hour, unless there is a clear reason it needs to drive faster. The default speed limit is 20 miles per hour in the city, and the top posted limit anywhere in the city is 50 miles per hour.
“Speed kills,” Silverman said. “A pedestrian hit by a car going 50 miles per hour has just a 20 percent chance of surviving. Lowering the speed of the car by just 10 miles per hour, to 40 miles per hour, doubles the odds of the pedestrian surviving.”
The reckless drivers bill was co-introduced by Councilmembers Brianne K. Nadeau and Janeese Lewis George. Both bills are expected to be referred to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment.
One-pager: Reckless Driver Accountability Act of 2022
One-pager: Speed Limiters Amendment Act of 2022