DC Traffic Control Officers Get Teeth
This is a step in the right direction and should be good news to everyone who wants better traffic control on D.C. streets: The Department of Transportation's traffic control officers can now write tickets for parking infractions and minor moving violations such as parking in a prohibited zone, double parking, using a cell phone while driving or blocking a crosswalk.
The traffic control officers are the people in the yellow vests you see at downtown intersections or on M Street and South Capitol Street before and after games at Nationals Park. They direct traffic and help pedestrians get across. But only recently did the District enact legislation and give the officers the training to allow them to stop drivers, bikers and pedestrians and give them tickets.
I admire the traffic control officers. When I cross a downtown intersection, it's often the TCO who's standing between me and an oncoming truck. The officer had no more power than a raised hand.
"Their primary responsibility is to keep traffic moving in a safe and efficient manner," Gabe Klein, the District's transportation director, said in a statement this afternoon. "Distracted driving, blocking of intersections, crosswalks and bike lanes is dangerous for the motorist and the pedestrian and violators will receive tickets."
I enjoy citing violations they now can target, so here's a list of possibilities: Parking in a bus or loading zone, parking in front of a designated entrance, expired tags, standing in a No Standing zone, parking in a No Parking zone, double parking, parking where it's prohibited during rush hour, having an expired inspection sticker or having no front or rear tag, stopping where prohibited.
The one downside I can think of is that anytime a traffic officer stops someone to write a ticket, it takes the officer away from his or her duties at the intersection. I've long thought there should be more of these officers. (There are 67 now.) Maybe a force increase should be the next step.
July 29, 2009; 1:22 PM ET
Categories: Biking , Commuting , Driving , Safety | Tags: District Department of Transportation, Dr. Gridlock, pedestrians, traffic control officers
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