If you have lived in Fairfax County for any amount of time, you are surely familiar with the traffic situation here. Congested roads and long travel times lead to frustrated and fatigued motorists, who may not always yield to pedestrians at a crosswalk. In the morning and afternoon, the situation is compounded by school children going to and from school. To help keep us all safe, and keep traffic moving in an orderly fashion, the County hires crossing guards to assist students and pedestrians in crossing the street at appropriate intersections. The service these workers provide plays an instrumental role in promoting student safety, and we should be thankful for their service to our children and the community. Crossing Guard Appreciation Day is Feb. 8, and I hope everyone will go out of their way to thank a crossing guard. (In fact, you can thank them every day!) Our students and pedestrians depend on them, and the County would not be as safe without them.
Safety at intersections, and roadway safety as a whole, is one of my priorities both as your supervisor and as Chair of the Board’s Public Safety Committee. In that regard, I have launched and participated in several safety initiatives. First, to improve safety for both motorists and pedestrians, I developed the “Slow Down” safe driving campaign. This campaign aimed to reduce neighborhood speeding through extensive community outreach efforts, and part of that outreach involved assistance from residents. If you are interested in spreading the word, my office still has available for free the yellow “slow down” signs, which you can place on your lawn to get the message out.
Second, to combat the issue of distracted driving, I joined Kirk Cousins (Washington Redskins Quarterback) in support of the “Phones Down Touchdown” campaign sponsored by Transurban. This campaign raises awareness of distracted driving, primarily by discouraging texting on the road. A significant number of accidents are attributable to texting while driving, and other forms of distracted driving. By keeping people focused on the road, and not their phone, we can improve everyone’s roadway safety.
Recently, the Board joined my call to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to increase from three to six times per year its mowing of roadway median strips. This high grass is not only unsightly, but creates visibility problems for motorists.
These initiatives are great ways to promote community engagement and safe driving awareness, but, are not enough on their own. You can join with us by focusing on your own driving, speed, and attentiveness behind the wheel. Encourage your neighbors to do the same. And thank your local crossing guards. They are out there every day- rain, snow, or shine- working to keep our neighborhoods safe. Thank you!