Teen drivers the focus of Fairfax Co. distracted driving prevention

Police in Fairfax County, Virginia, are ramping up traffic enforcement during distracted-driving month, partnering with schools to educate the most distracted drivers — teenagers.

They want young people to know the benefits of defensive driving.

“They’re inexperienced drivers. They’re driving high-performance cars, oftentimes; and they’re speeding and they can’t control,” police Chief Kevin Davis said.

He’s concerned that the county could see a deadly trend continue. The county ended 2022 with 44 deaths compared to 29 two years before. Pedestrian deaths rose from 14 fatal crashes in 2021 to 24 in 2022.

In response, Fairfax County installed speed cameras around schools as part of a pilot program.

Davis instructed officers to keep traffic safety a high priority. So far, officers have written 5,000 more citations and warnings to speeding and distracted drivers than this same time last year.

He noted that during the pandemic, there was a dip in traffic enforcement.

“So now that we’re coming out of COVID, I think it’s time for law enforcement — and we’re going to lead the way in Fairfax — to prioritize traffic safety and pedestrian safety as something that means a whole heck of a lot to families and friends and communities,” Davis said.

Davis said he is eager to team up with Fairfax County schools to increase officer engagement, teach new drivers how to drive defensively, share what to do if they are pulled over, and instruct students on best pedestrian practices.

“Whether it’s clothing [they wear] or crossing at crosswalks, all these are habits that people have or they don’t have. And we don’t need enforcement to be the only answer,” Davis said.

The school district said that its resource officers provided some input in the 10th-grade driver’s education classes. But Davis wants to see more involvement, including expanding existing training.

For $200, young drivers can sign up for a defensive driving class offered by Fairfax County police.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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