High speeds, distracted driving cited in increased deadly crashes in Fairfax County

Police in Fairfax County laid out plans for increased traffic safety education and enforcement after meeting with the Virginia county’s safety and security committee.

“Our DWI fatalities are at a five-year low in Fairfax County,” with nine reported in 2022 compared to 14 the previous year, police Chief Kevin Davis told members of the committee.

But overall, the number of traffic-related deaths are up, with 44 reported in 2022 compared to 29 two years before. Pedestrian deaths, which have also increased, are up from 14 fatal crashes in 2021 to 24 in 2022.

“High speeds and distracted driving are a significant factor in the increase in fatal crashes,” Deputy Chief of Police Robert Blakely said.

Both Davis and Blakely referenced fatal crashes involving teenagers.

“We have offered any and all of our services inside classrooms,” said Davis, who said he had been in touch with county school officials. He added that the goal is to “better partner and educate young people.”

In June, two Oakton High School students were killed when they were struck by a car. Police say the driver, 18-year-old Usman Shahid, was driving at 81 miles an hour. Shahid’s car hit an SUV, then struck three pedestrians, killing two. Shahid was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the case.

On Jan. 10 in Fairfax Station, two teenagers were killed and a third was seriously injured when the car they were driving in crashed on Lee Chapel Road, a hilly, twisting road that has generated safety concerns for years. Fairfax County police said their investigation showed that the car hit a speed of 100 miles per hour before the crash that killed two of the teens in the car, and injured a third.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Board of Supervisors member Dalia Palchik asked how to address the issue of people who drive at speeds as high as 100 miles an hour in zones where the speed limit is between 25 and 45 miles per hour.

“I guess that’s the area where I still have so much concern, and I’m seeing it happen,” Palchik said.

Blakely said more officers will be seen in school zones.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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