2023 Vision Zero Audit
The DC Auditor released a report on March 16th highlighting some of the hurdles that DC has experienced while trying to meet Vision Zero goals. While DC leaders have publicly stated that they’re committed to Vision Zero, the District has failed to meet traffic safety goals due to staffing issues at DDOT and lack of designated funding for the Vision Zero Omnibus Amendment Act.
The Vision Zero Omnibus Amendment Act, passed in 2020, contains a number of components including requiring DDOT to submit a Vision Zero progress report to DC Council highlighting dangerous corridors in the District and their plans to increase safety in those corridors. The bill was estimated to cost $171 million over four years, and at this point most of the costlier components of the bill remain unfunded. This includes:
Crosswalk Installation Requirement
Multimodal Long-Range Transportation Plan
Protected Bicycle Lane Installation Requirements
Incident Report Requirements
Public Outreach Program
Traffic Control at Intersections
The audit began in September 2021 after 200 community advocates urged the DC Auditor to look into the program. It looked at three years of data and work, going back to 2018. A number of conclusions were drawn in the audit, including the need to fully fund the Vision Zero Omnibus Amendment Act, increase staffing for DDOT’s Traffic Engineering and Safety Division, start tracking equity data associated with traffic safety improvements, encourage the Mayor to hold regular Vision Zero check-ins with the associated agencies to ensure adequate funding and staffing, and create more realistic budget targets.
DC’s Vision Zero plan was launched back in 2015 and aimed to get traffic deaths to zero by 2024. For most of the years that the plan has been in place, the number of traffic fatalities throughout the District has increased instead of decreased.
When we look to other cities in the US and around the world that have made progress on Vision Zero, we can see what works and what doesn’t work. DC has made some positive improvement, but the work won’t be done until traffic fatalities are at zero. Not even one death is acceptable.