Many municipalities have made reducing the number of crashes that occur a top safety priority. Some municipalities invest more in police department budgets or add new traffic cameras to deter unsafe conduct at particularly busy intersections. Others may employ new safety concepts when developing new areas or repaving existing streets, such as replacing intersections with roundabouts.
These efforts do have an impact on overall traffic safety, but changes to infrastructure generally don’t have a major impact on the highest-risk motorists. They tend to continue to make unsafe choices even when road design reflects what researchers believe is optimal for public safety.
Washington DC has joined the Vision Zero movement, which means that the city aims to eliminate deaths caused by car crashes. A new program seeks to achieve that goal, in part, through direct communication with high-risk drivers.
What is Washington DC doing?
Local authorities have established a list of more than 100,000 motorists who are high-risk drivers based on their prior conduct in traffic. Anyone who has received at least two citations due to images captured by automatic traffic cameras will be on the list.
The city will reach out to these drivers during October. Some of them will receive letters, while others will receive text messages. Some drivers may receive both. Those who receive messages will have the option of opting out of future communications. The goal of sending out the letters and text messages is to notify people of their elevated risk and remind them that they are at increased risk of causing a crash that could injure or kill them or people in other vehicles.
While Zero Vision DC previously set a goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2024, the chances of actually achieving that goal are slim. Still, innovative programs, like directly appealing to those that elevated risk, could at least push current traffic trends in a more favorable direction. Those who end up involved in a crash with an unsafe driver may need assistance when navigating an insurance claim or preparing for a personal injury lawsuit against that driver.
Just maybe, local efforts to improve traffic safety might lead to reduced high-risk behavior on Washington DC roads and roads throughout the nation.