Lon Anderson of AAA Mid-Atlantic misrepresented my position on traffic enforcement and the commitment of the D.C. police to making our roadways safer [letters, Aug. 26].
Traffic safety is a priority of the D.C. police. The department is active in the regional Smooth Operator campaign against aggressive driving and will issue more than 50,000 citations during this summer's campaign alone. It also conducts regular sobriety checks as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Checkpoint Strikeforce initiative. Further, it supports the America Buckles Up Children campaign and other initiatives promoting the use of seat belts and child safety seats; the District has one of the highest rates for using seat belts in the nation, thanks in part to consistent enforcement.
Safety is why the D.C. police started a "speed blitz" program that has increased sixfold the number of arrests of the most egregious speeders -- those traveling 31 or more mph over the speed limit. Safety also is why the police initiated automated enforcement, which has helped to reduce red-light running by almost 70 percent at the 39 District intersections equipped with cameras -- the equivalent of 26,000 fewer red-light violations each month. Meanwhile, the rate of aggressive speeding in photo radar zones has plummeted from 30 percent of all vehicles three years ago to fewer than 5 percent today.
Like AAA, the D.C. police are troubled by last year's increase in traffic fatalities. But fatalities in which speeding was the primary cause declined 30 percent last year. During the first two years of D.C.'s photo radar program, speeding-related fatalities fell from 38 to 21, down almost 45 percent. Our biggest increase last year was in pedestrian fatalities, a problem confronting many jurisdictions in our region.
The D.C. police are in the business of public safety. The department will use all the tools at its disposal to improve the public safety, and traffic safety, in Washington.
CHARLES H. RAMSEY
Metropolitan Police Department