Combating Speeding and Unsafe Driving in Fairfax County

Joint Board Matter with Supervisor Hyland and Supervisor McKay
June 19, 2012

Request for Staff to Develop a Multi-Faceted Effort to Combat Speeding and Unsafe Driving in Our Neighborhoods

Madame Chairman:

In recent months, we have heard from residents a high level of anxiety over traffic safety in Fairfax County - particularly speeding through our neighborhoods.  Citizens also raised this concern at my recent Citizen Governance Conference and it was the number one community problem noted in response to an issue survey conducted by the Braddock District Council.

The numbers seem to line up with these concerns. So far in 2012, Fairfax County Police Officers have issued 11,906 speeding citations, or more than 50 a day. Statistics also show a rise in other unsafe violations, such as disregarding stop signs and reckless driving, both of which increased in 2011 over 2010 levels. Unsafe driving not only makes our roads dangerous, but parents are hesitant even to allow their children to walk down the sidewalk, or play in the front yard, because they may wander into streets that seem to have become raceways. 

No one disputes the notion that most of us in Fairfax County lead very hectic, fast-paced lives where tight schedules are exacerbated by heavy traffic. However, that is not an excuse to drive unsafely, especially through neighborhoods. With that in mind, we met with representatives from the Police Department to discuss ways to address this problem in the context of building stronger neighborhoods. You may be familiar with the Police Department’s Operation Summer HEAT (Help Eliminate Aggressive Traffic), the new traffic safety campaign targeting unsafe, aggressive, driving behaviors. Our conversation went beyond stepping-up enforcement. While HEAT and other similar enforcement efforts are very important components to keep our neighborhood streets safe, our discussion highlighted the need for a vigorous awareness and educational campaign that involves and empowers communities. Much like was done over a number of years in response to drunk-driving, we need to change the culture in Fairfax County so that is no longer acceptable to speed through residential communities, roll through stop signs, or even block the box.

Therefore, Madame Chairman, we ask, with unanimous consent, that the Board of Supervisors direct staff to develop a multi-faceted campaign to combat neighborhood speeding and unsafe driving.  This campaign could include the following: (1) coordination between our police department and office of public affairs to publicize widely a strong county policy against speeding and unsafe driving, (2) publication of speeding and unsafe driving convictions and other means to raise public consciousness, (3) working with home owner associations, civic associations, schools, community groups, and other neighbors to establish a community value system that discourages speeding and unsafe driving, (4) hiring a consultant to develop a professional public service media campaign including radio, television, internet, and print media, (5) increased police enforcement, including highly visible speed check points, (6) coordination with the Commonwealth’s Attorney for stricter prosecution of unsafe driving, (7) consideration for funding traffic calming with county funds, and seeking greater authority from the General Assembly to implement traffic calming measures, and (8) other related efforts. 

We ask that recommendations for this campaign be prepared for a meeting of the Public Safety Committee Meeting this fall, and funding proposals be including for the Board’s consideration in this Fall’s carry over package. 


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