New Pedestrian Countdown Signals Installed


Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935, FAX 703-324-2010

Aug. 13, 2003

 

New Pedestrian Countdown Signals Installed

Today at 9:30 a.m., state and local officials commemorated the installation of new pedestrian countdown signals at the intersection of Lockheed Boulevard and Richmond Highway.

These signals differ from the standard pedestrian crossing signals in that they feature a visible timer that counts down the number of seconds remaining for pedestrians to safely cross the street. This is aimed at reducing some of the confusion associated with standard crossing signals that change to a "Don't Walk" symbol to prevent pedestrians from stepping off the curb and beginning to cross the street. Often pedestrians already in progress across the street who then see the signal change to "Don't Walk" are unsure if they should proceed across. With these new signals there can be little confusion, since the timer indicates just how much time remains to cross the road.

Within the next couple of months, these countdown signals will also be installed at the intersections of Richmond Highway at Beacon Hill Road, and Richmond Highway at Ladson Road. The installation of countdown pedestrian signals at all three intersections is being coordinated with the Virginia Department of Transportation as part of a special one-year study approved by the Federal Highway Administration for trial use of these devices. If study results are favorable, it is anticipated that countdown pedestrian signals will be installed at other selected locations in the county as traffic signals are upgraded.

The countdown pedestrian signals are part of a comprehensive program of pedestrian safety initiatives that Fairfax County is undertaking with VDOT's assistance. Throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area in the last year there has also been a regional effort to improve awareness on the part of drivers and pedestrians about pedestrian safety issues. Initiatives specific to Fairfax County include:

  • Better "Yield to Pedestrian" signage.
  • Improved pedestrian education programs.
  • Changing the county code to increase penalties for crosswalk violations by drivers failing to yield the right of way.
  • Funding $43,000 for pedestrian safety measures including sidewalk construction along the Richmond Highway corridor.
  • Designating a pedestrian program manager, Chris Wells, in the county Department of Transportation, who works closely with the Police Department to educate county citizens.
  • Funding $1.5 million for a comprehensive pedestrian safety review of all 7,000 public transit bus stops improve safety for pedestrians traveling to and from bus stops.

More than 300 pedestrians are injured and 15 killed in automobile related incidents annually in Fairfax County, often resulting in serious permanent disabilities and loss of function. This is more fatalities from crossing the street than from homicides. Tragically, this could be prevented by increasing the practice of properly crossing the street and improving driver awareness of the rights and responsibilities of pedestrians. Initiatives such as this pedestrian countdown signal make it easier for pedestrians to know when it is safest for them to cross at the intersection.

For more information about countdown pedestrian safety signals in Fairfax County or for information about the ceremony, please call Doug Hansen, Senior Transportation Planner for Traffic Operations, 703-324-1100, TTY 703-324-1102.

 

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