Police: Fairfax Co. crashes down after return of ‘Road Shark’ safety campaign

Police: Fairfax Co. crashes down after return of ‘Road Shark’ safety campaign

A campaign launched in 2023 to discourage dangerous driving ended up decreasing the number of fatal crashes in Fairfax County, Virginia, police say. Now, they are hoping to continue bettering roadway safety this year.

Fairfax County police and Virginia State Police are keeping up with their “Road Shark” campaign in 2024, which hopes to discourage dangerous driving by upping enforcement and driver education, according to a Monday news release.

“Sharks can be dangerous in the water,” Deputy Chief Bob Blakley said at a news conference Monday. “Road sharks are dangerous on our roadways.”

Part of the campaign is upping enforcement — especially on the roads with the most crashes. Officers will look for dangerous drivers, such as those who are speeding, distracted or driving under the influence.

Most drivers want to arrive at their destination safely, but Blakley said distractions can sometimes get in the way. The campaign hopes to educate drivers about best practices on the roads, and part of that education involves officers heading into schools and other community events.

The joint campaign was originated in 1999 to reduce crashes while deterring distracted and aggressive driving. Safety on the roads improved and the program went away, Blakley said.

“Then through the COVID time, we started to see some of these bad habits come back,” Blakley said.

In response, the campaign was brought back in 2023 and nearly 25,000 citations and warnings were issued over four waves. Blakley said it achieved “great results.”

“We saw a 36% reduction in the number of fatal crashes that occurred in Fairfax County, and a 63% reduction in the number of pedestrian related fatalities,” Blakley said.

That’s why the campaign is back again this year, Blakley said.

“What we want is, the patrol officer working in the neighborhoods to also pay special attention on traffic offenses, and they’re coming in on the regular neighborhood streets, not just out on the big roads,” he said. “But on the main thoroughfares, you’ll see our motor officers and other dedicated traffic units concentrating in some of the more dangerous spots.”

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein contributed to this story.

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Jessica Kronzer

Jessica Kronzer graduated from James Madison University in May 2021 after studying media and politics. She enjoys covering politics, advocacy and compelling human-interest stories.

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