The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (BOS) 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 develop a campaign focused on safe, slower driving.
"I've heard a high level of anxiety and concern from residents regarding unsafe driving through their neighborhoods," Cook said. It was the top concern listed by residents in a recent Braddock District Council of Community Organizations survey.
"Clearly, many of us in Fairfax lead very hectic, faced-paced lives, where tight schedules are exacerbated by heavy traffic," Cook 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," he said.
Fairfax County Police have issued 11,906 speeding tickets so far in 2012, according to information provided by Cook. "That’s more than 50 a day," Cook said.
The county’s campaign could implement a number of strategies, including a joint effort by the police department and the county's public affairs office to widely and heavily publicize the county’s traffic laws; hiring of 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 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.
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, which will be presented at a Public Safety Committee meeting this fall. Funding proposals will be included in the budget carryover package later this year.