Fairfax County police home in on traffic safety with return of ‘Road Shark’ campaign

Fairfax County police and Virginia State Police are partnering on a “Road Shark” traffic safety campaign (courtesy FCPD)

Local and state police are on the prowl once again for dangerous driving behaviors.

The Fairfax County Police Department and Virginia State Police announced yesterday (Monday) that they have launched a “Road Shark” enforcement and education campaign for a second year with the goal of reducing aggressive driving and crashes.

Phased out for a time after getting introduced in 1999, the initiative was revived last year in response to a surge in pedestrian fatalities in 2022. With the campaign, officers issued nearly 25,000 citations and warnings during four week-long “waves” involving increased visibility and enforcement of traffic laws, particularly in locations with frequent crashes or safety issues.

The FCPD says the first “Road Shark” campaign helped the county make “significant strides in promoting safer roads.”

“Through the efforts of our officers, partners, and engaged drivers, we saw a remarkable decrease in traffic incidents and a notable improvement in overall road safety last year,” the police department said.

According to state data, the total number of crashes in Fairfax County went up in 2023, as did the number of injuries, but fatalities dropped to 42 after soaring to 66 in 2022 — the most since Virginia’s Traffic Records Electronic Data System (TREDS) launched in 2010. Ten of the people killed in crashes last year were pedestrians compared to 32 in 2022.

Less than three full months into 2024, however, the county’s death toll has already reached nine for people killed in vehicles — most recently, in a head-on collision on Fairfax County Parkway — and five for pedestrians, two of them on Richmond Highway, two on I-495 and one on Buckman Road in Mount Vernon.

The I-495 and Buckman Road fatal crashes all occurred in the morning of March 10.

Like last year, this year’s “Road Shark” campaign will combine enforcement with education, all based on data collected by police, according to the FCPD:

  • High Visibility Enforcement (HiVE): FCPD officers will be strategically conduct enforcement and education areas all over the county to deter unsafe driving behaviors. Officers will be looking for an array of traffic violations including aggressive driving, excessive speeding, driving under the influence, school zone violations, distracted driving, and others. A recent NHTSA synthesis of studies concluded that high-visibility enforcement efforts such as these reduced crashes and improved safety outcomes in study locations.
  • Community Engagement and Education: FCPD encourages all community members to play an active role in road safety by adhering to traffic laws, promoting responsible driving behavior, and reporting any concerns to local law enforcement. Road Shark 2024 will involve community engagement, communication, and education to help educate our residents on safe driving practices and raise awareness about the importance of road safety.
  • Data-Informed Decision Making: Fairfax County police officers, along with Virginia State troopers, will utilize data-informed enforcement strategies and operations that target areas with high crash concentrations to reduce crashes. This allows us to identify trends, address specific areas of concern, and implement effective strategies to best address road safety issues.

“The Road Shark campaign will once again bring together law enforcement, community organizations, and community members to address and mitigate traffic safety challenges,” the FCPD said. “Through increased patrols, targeted enforcement, and educational outreach, the FCPD aims to create a safer and more secure environment for all road users.”

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