“How to report traffic violations to DDOT?”

one way
Photo by PoPville flickr user Erin

“Dear PoPville,

I live on a one-way block of 4th street NW (between M and N). It’s surrounded by a few very busy streets (New York Ave and New Jersey) and people very frequently cut down the street in the wrong direction at high speeds to bypass traffic. This is obviously super dangerous, and frustrating (we recently bought a house here and primary motivation was the relatively quiet, traffic-free street). We have seen many near misses where pedestrians don’t think to check for traffic coming in the wrong direction. Is there a way to submit a complaint to DDOT or to ask for additional enforcement of traffic laws?”

20 Comment

  • Hi, this is Lily, your ANC rep! I’ve put in several 311 tickets over the past few months about this problem (along with the reckless driving that happens in the alley behind the Yale buildings — our other major traffic issue on the block). You can put in a 311 ticket for a traffic safety investigation at 311.dc.gov. If you send me an email at [email protected], I can also forward your email directly to people at DDOT that I’ve been talking to about upcoming changes to the traffic pattern on NJ.

  • accendo

    I’m not sure how to best report, especially since the police go the wrong way down that street often too, but I wish there was some kind of automated enforcement that would help.

  • jim_ed

    Find out who the Lieutenant at MPD is that is your Police Service Area (PSA) commander and send him an email. CC your ANC rep, your councilmember, and the MPD district commander as well. I would ask for additional traffic enforcement on it, or potentially a study from DDOT on speed. Our ANC rep was able to get the same done for us since people treat the surrounding blocks like a drag strip late at night.

  • DDOT does not enforce traffic. That is the responsibility of MPD.

  • (I think my comment is getting eaten bc I was trying to include my email address earlier — apologies if this double-posts.)

    This is Lily, your ANC! Sorry about this frustration. I’ve put in several tickets about this block in 311 (311.dc.gov) — it’s easy to request a traffic safety investigation, so I definitely encourage that. If you have any details that might be helpful for enforcement (like whether it’s more likely to happen at morning rush hour versus afternoon rush hour), please include those. In case any other neighbors are reading, the other big reckless-driving-in-a-narrow-space concern in the neighborhood is the Yale Steam Alley – a group of neighbors has been working with 311, DDOT, and up through the City Council for changes to the rules around where you can put speed bumps.

    If you send me an email, I can also forward your message to the DDOT team that’s working on some upcoming changes to the traffic pattern on NJ. I imagine they’ll say that this is a matter for MPD/traffic enforcement, not DDOT, but there’s always the chance that we could get better signage or another measure that’s preventative, rather than punitive. They seems to believe that the work on NJ will make our few blocks less of a cut-through — I hope so!

    My email address is my name (Lily M Roberts), with periods in between, at gmail.

  • I lived there for 6 years and it was a constant struggle. I saw at least one nasty accident at the end of the block from one car going the wrong direction and was almost hit myself while trying to park once. Constructive complaints do work, you just have to be diligent. I used to send emails and call in information to 311 regularly for a month or so and then a police officer would appear at the corner. After a few weeks of things cleaning up, the cop would disappear and the cycle would repeat.

  • (I think my comment is getting eaten bc I was trying to include my email address earlier — apologies if this double-posts.)

    This is Lily, your ANC! Sorry about this frustration. I’ve put in several tickets about this block in 311 (311.dc.gov) — it’s easy to request a traffic safety investigation, so I definitely encourage that. If you have any details that might be helpful for enforcement (like whether it’s more likely to happen at morning rush hour versus afternoon rush hour), please include those. In case any other neighbors are reading, the other big reckless-driving-in-a-narrow-space concern in the neighborhood is the Yale Steam Alley – a group of neighbors has been working with 311, DDOT, and up through the City Council for changes to the rules around where you can put speed bumps.

    I’ve also notified our local Lieutenant on busy afternoons when I’ve walked by and seen people in the act — I can give you his contact info too.

    If you send me an email, I can also forward your message to the DDOT team that’s working on some upcoming changes to the traffic pattern on NJ. I imagine they’ll say that this is a matter for MPD/traffic enforcement, not DDOT, but there’s always the chance that we could get better signage or another measure that’s preventative, rather than punitive. They seems to believe that the work on NJ will make our few blocks less of a cut-through — I hope so!

    My email address is my name (Lily M Roberts), with periods in between, at gmail.

  • In Ward 4, the most effective avenue for us to alert ddot to unsafe conditions (that aren’t necessarily resulting in crash reports and therefore can go unnoticed) has been to have our ANC reps reach out to ddot about the situation. They have lots of direct contact lines to city employees.

    You can also request a “traffic calming investigation,” “traffic signals investigation,” and/or “roadway marking installation” via DC 311 app/portal/phone. This is more effective if you have lots of people doing it though, and I also recommend marking it as a safety issue.

  • wonder how much a set of those one-way spike strips like at the car rental garages would cost??

  • Same thing happens a few blocks away on Q street and 5th. I’ve noticed the same reckless person do it repeatedly coming out of the modern condo building on the southeast corner of 5th and Q. (They also clearly live there coming out of a garage but still have VA plates.) It’s particularly enraging given the school on that block of 5th and the little kids always crossing the street there.

  • Since MPD doesn’t do any non-camera traffic enforcement, I wonder if a camera could be rigged to specifically catch people driving the wrong direction. You’d want to set the threshold at 10 mph or so to avoid snaring people trying to parallel park, but I feel like it should be possible. Then make it a ridiculous fine because it’s legitimately super dangerous.

  • Once people do get onto the legally southbound section of that stretch, from M to New York Avenue, too many cars use the right lane (for turning and for straight-ahead, onto 4th Street) to crunch into the I-395 entrance ramp. The signage is weak, and there are no directional white-arrow markers painted on the pavement. DDoT has refused to do anything about it, and MPD cruisers are among the violators. So every morning, we get to witness constant horn-hoking and near collisions, as three lanes fight over entry to the two-lane entrance. Cheaters are rewarded for their bad behavior, and drivers abiding by the law are punished.

  • Good luck. I recently changed my commuting pattern permanently after being nearly run down by wrong-way drivers on that street for years.

  • Ask for speed bumps. The idea of slowly going the wrong way down a street while hitting bumps should be a deterrent

  • That block would be perfect for a curbside contraflow bike lane to narrow the main travel lane and slow cars down in either direction. Combine that with a little enforcement and it should be much safer.