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DC Mayor Muriel Bowser pushing for $500 speeding tickets, 15 mph speed limits

From left, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., the District's non-voting member of Congress, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, and chairman of the D.C. Council, Phil Mendelson, hold a news conference to discuss their determination to protect local home-rule laws governing gun safety, anti-discrimination, labor, marijuana and abortion during the Federal appropriations process, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 2, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is pushing for new legislation that would raise speeding tickets in the District up to $500 and create 15 miles per hour speed limits in parts of the city.

According to a press release from AAA, Bowser is fast-tracking the resolution for her "Vision Zero Initiative," which would increase 18 traffic fines and create 11 new traffic infractions.

“The objective of Vision Zero is to achieve zero fatalities and serious injuries to travelers using the District’s transportation system by 2024 through the more effective use of data, education, enforcement, and engineering,” Bowser said in a statement.

The proposed changes include upping the fine for going 25 mph over the speed limit from the current $300 to $400 on Washington freeways and interstates and $500 on city streets. It would also create designated “Safe Zones” with speed limits of 15 mph for roads next to "school facilities and grounds serving youth" as well as "a playground, recreational facility, pool, athletic field, or senior center designated by official signs.”

AAA says there have been 27 recorded traffic deaths in D.C. so far in 2018, which is already 12.5 percent more than all of 2017. Despite the intentions of the resolution, it is already facing criticism.

“There is not a shred of empirical evidence that proves that higher traffic fines deter bad driving behavior," John Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs said in a statement. "This is about generating revenue under the patina of traffic safety."

D.C.'s current speed camera program has given out approximately 8.8 million speeding tickets since it started in 2001, creating a revenue of $775.1 million over that span, officials said.

The District Council meets at 1:30 p.m. Thursday and will feature a public roundtable for Washington drivers and residents to voice their concerns.

Below are more details on the proposed Vision Zero changes:

• Increases 18 existing fines or imposes 11 new infractions for dangerous behavior by pedestrians and cyclists, as well as upon motorists.

• Targets “super-speeders.” Increases the fine for going 25 mph over the posted speed limit from $300 currently to $400 on freeways and interstates in the District, and to $500 on local streets in the city.

• Imposes speed restrictions. Lowers the speed limit to 15 miles per hour on all roadways adjacent “to school facilities and grounds serving youth.” When no times are indicated on official signs, the 15 mile per hour limit is in effect “from 7:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M.”

• Lowers the speed limit to 15 mph on roadways “adjacent to a playground, recreational facility, pool, athletic field, or senior center designated by official signs.” If no times are indicated on the official signs, the 15 mile per hour limit is in effect “from 7:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M.”

• Doubles the fine for overtaking another vehicle stopped at a crosswalk or intersection for a pedestrian from $250 currently to $500, plus three points.

• Proposes new penalties for the failure to yield right of way and failure to proceed with due caution around a stationary authorized emergency vehicle ($100), which also calls for imposing six points on the driver’s record, and adds a fine for the failure to proceed with caution and reduced speed when approaching an incident in the roadway ($100 and 3 points).

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