Fairfax County Police are hoping to turn Route 7100 from the "speedway" back into the Fairfax County Parkway.
In an initiative based out of the West Springfield District Station, the county police are cracking down on speeding on the Parkway. Through Oct. 29, officers from the station will be heavily patrolling a 7.2-mile stretch of the Parkway between Rolling Road and Ox Road.
"We’ve had people ask how much over we’ll give them before we start issuing tickets," said Officer Robert Blakely. "We’re trying to get rid of that urban legend that 10 [miles over the speed limit] is OK."
The speed limit on the Parkway is 50 miles per hour, but in the last 12 months, according to police department figures, that stretch of road was responsible for 157 crashes, 67 resulting in personal injury. Speed detection devices laid down in advance of the initiative revealed 50 percent of all motorists heading either north or southbound on the parkway were at least 5 miles per hour over the limit.
"Too many lives are being negatively impacted due to traffic crashes. It is everyone’s civic responsibility to drive in a safe and courteous manner," said Capt. Jack Hurlock, commander of the West Springfield Station.
TO THAT END, the Fairfax County Police have implemented a number of devices they hope will make the Parkway safer for commuters and residents of the area in the Springfield District.
Message boards and radar trailers will inform motorists of the initiative and their current speed as they enter the district, and the department is utilizing radar and lidar, both types of speed-detection systems, to catch speeders.
"We’re using the signs to send the message so people will remember to slow down before they enter the district," said Blakely.
Officers will coordinate efforts, using radio communication to catch speeders from patrol cars stationed on on-ramps and overpasses. Even "ghost cars," patrol cruisers without an officer inside, will be used to send the message to slow down.
In the first four days of the initiative, just under 300 tickets were issued by officers from the West Springfield Station. In Fairfax County, a speeding ticket costs a $57 court fee, plus $5 for each mile per hour over the limit. Going 20 miles over the limit could mean a reckless driving charge, which is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
According to the FCPD Public Information Office, tickets will also be issued for other violations, such as tailgating, aggressive driving, unsafe lane changes and failure to signal in a timely manner.
It's an initiative designed ultimately "to seek voluntary compliance of traffic laws," according to Blakely.