Survey about pedestrian safety and attitudes toward automated traffic enforcement in Washington, D.C.
Objective: Pedestrians represent more than one third of all traffic deaths in Washington, D.C. The District plans to expand its long-standing automated traffic enforcement program in 2013 from speed and red light cameras to cameras to enforce pedestrian right-of-way laws at crosswalks and stop sign laws. This study collected information on the opinions, behaviors, and knowledge of D.C. residents related to camera enforcement and pedestrian safety issues. Methods: A telephone survey of 801 adult D.C. residents was conducted in November 2012 with approximately equal numbers of respondents in each of D.C.’s eight wards. Quotas were used to ensure that the sample was representative of the demographic characteristics of adults in each ward. For analyses combining responses across the wards, data were weighted to correspond with the demographic characteristics of adults in the city. Results: Most respondents believed that drivers speeding, running red lights, running stop signs, and not stopping for pedestrians are serious threats to their safety. Respondents strongly supported the speed and red light camera programs, with 76 percent of respondents favoring speed cameras and 87 percent favoring red light cameras. Support was more limited for the camera enforcement that was not yet in place at the time of the survey, with 50 percent of respondents favoring stop sign cameras and 47 percent of respondents favoring crosswalk cameras. Twenty-four percent of respondents had not driven a car in D.C. in the past month, and higher proportions of these nondrivers favored speed cameras (90%), stop sign cameras (67%), and crosswalk cameras (59%) than respondents who drove in D.C. in the past month. Respondents who supported camera enforcement cited safety as their main reason. More than 9 in 10 respondents knew that D.C. law requires drivers to stop for pedestrians crossing the street in marked crosswalks at intersections without traffic signals and midblock, but only 54 percent knew that drivers must stop for pedestrians crossing the street at intersections without marked crosswalks. Conclusions: Most residents supported speed cameras and red light cameras, but support was lower for stop sign and crosswalk cameras. Emphasizing the safety benefits of stop sign and crosswalk cameras and documenting the extent of safety problems at stop signs and crosswalks may increase support for these new forms of camera enforcement. Communities considering automated enforcement should take into account the opinions of pedestrians, even though they are not subject to camera citations.