The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is taking action against reckless county drivers—especially those who speed through residential neighborhoods.
During its meeting Tuesday, the board unanimously approved Braddock District Supervisor John Cook’s motion to begin developing a campaign focused on safe, slower driving.
"I have heard a high level of anxiety and concern from residents regarding unsafe driving through their neighborhoods," Cook said, adding that it was the No. 1 concern for residents highlighted in a survey conducted by the Braddock District Council.
"Clearly, many of us in Fairfax lead very hectic, faced-paced lives where tight schedules are exacerbated by heavy traffic," he said. "However, that is not an excuse to drive dangerously through our neighborhoods. We need to change the culture in the county so that is no longer acceptable to speed through residential communities, roll through stop signs, or even block the box; and I expect that this effort will play a major role in doing just that."
According to Cook’s Board matter, Fairfax County Police officers have issued 11,906 speeding tickets so far in 2012. That’s more than 50 a day, Cook said.
He said the county’s campaign could implement a number of strategies, including a joint effort from the FCPD and public affairs office to widely and heavily publicize the county’s traffic laws; hiring a consultant to develop a professional public service campaign with online, television, radio and print media; and coordination with the Commonwealth’s Attorney for more severe prosecution of unsafe driving.
Board members agreed with Cook's position, which came only days after the FCPD launched its Operation Summer HEAT initiative to combat aggressive driving. Supervisors instructed staff to look at all possibilities, noting that the county only has so many police officers.
“The speeding in our communities really has become a problem and we can’t have radar out there everywhere,” said Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland.
Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth agreed with the motion and said it might benefit from a component that would educate residents on the laws of speeding and parking in neighborhoods.
Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay cited Franconia District Station’s “ghost cruiser” as a successful enforcement method. The unmanned cruiser is moved around to different high-traffic areas in the district and discourages drivers from speeding.
“It’s been very, very effective at slowing down traffic and raising awareness,” McKay said.
McKay also expressed concern about speeding near schools and school buses.
“This board has been very outspoken trying to get and encourage people to walk and bike to school, and one of the number one reasons they don’t is because they fear the race tracks around the schools,” he said.
County staff will draft recommendations for the campaign to be presented at the Public Safety Committee meeting this fall, and funding proposals will be included in the budget carryover package later this year.