If statistics from the first month of crackdowns on motoring scofflaws are any indication of a trend, police around town are issuing enough citations to rival Ticketron. In the District alone, Metropolitan Police issued 26,239 tickets for moving violations in April -- nearly three times the number issued last year at the same time.
Parking tickets nearly doubled to 75,430, from 40,567 in April 1984. And let this be a warning: there were nearly five times the number of warnings issued. How about pedestrians?
They were hit hard: 3,720 citations were issued last month; that's considerably more than the 49 issued in April of last year. Is it proving anything?
Too early to tell, say authorities, which you may take to mean that the crackdown has only just begun. As Police Chief Maurice Turner has noted, "Until we change the attitude of the public, we will continue to remain vigilant. Our commitment is toward the end of the year." So far, the most vocal attitudes have been complaints about overzealous ticketing for parking and jaywalking; there is the usual gripe that all this police time and effort should concentrate on fighting crime instead of harassing people who mean no harm.
Granted there may be some bad judgment calls now and then, but people who "mean no harm" have caused plenty -- from serious injuries to death. As of May 14, there were 18 traffic deaths, including seven pedestrians, in the city this year. That is why police in town and in the region's various jurisdictions are serious about red-light runners and jaywalkers. They deserve public encouragement, for safety's sake.
We do seem to have noticed more than the usual number of motorists thinking twice about runninga light -- and deciding to stop. And yes, there is some danger that the motorist behind you will have other thoughts and will wind up ramming your car. One reader has a suggestion that might help: a bumper sticker that says, "I Brake for Red Lights."