Thousands caught speeding, hundreds more on phones during latest wave of Fairfax Co. Road Shark campaign

Thousands of drivers received tickets or warnings as part of the third wave of Fairfax County police and Virginia State Police’s Road Shark campaign, authorities said in a news release.

The initiative, which police said aims to improve safety across county roads, led to over 8,500 tickets and warnings given out between June 17 and June 23. Hundreds of those included citations for reckless driving, and hundreds more were cited for using a device while driving.

The thousands of tickets represent the most issued during a week of this year’s Road Shark initiative. This year, 2,600 more citations and warnings were given out than during 2023’s third wave of the campaign.

“The ultimate goal of Road Shark is to increase traffic safety,” Fairfax County Assistant Chief Robert Blakley said. “When I see decreased crashes, decreased fatalities, it tells us that our efforts and traffic safety and all things, not only prevention, but enforcement, all things that we’re doing are working.”

The concept, which includes increased visibility and enforcement, was invented in 1999, but Blakley said it came back after 2022 was “one of our deadliest years in the last 10 years in terms of traffic fatalities.”

In 2023, he said law enforcement found that the four waves of the campaign resulted in decreased traffic fatalities and decreased pedestrian fatalities. Because of that success, Blakley said this year’s variation will include a fifth wave. Each “wave” is a nonconsecutive week that the department chooses.

One of the thousands of tickets and warnings given out went to a driver who was caught going 117 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone in the middle of the day Saturday. That driver was ultimately arrested, police said.

“It’s pretty evident that we still have some work to do to get traffic to slow down out there,” Blakley said.

Last week, police gave out over 200 tickets for reckless driving, he said.

“We see way too many of these triple-digit speeding tickets, especially on our limited-access roadways like Route 28, or the Dulles Toll Road or Fairfax County Parkway,” Blakley said, “some of the roadways that allow people to think they can speed.”

Over 300 tickets and warnings were issued last week for people using a device while driving, which Blakley said is “entirely illegal now.”

“The modern vehicle drives very, very easily, so our drivers are still very distracted,” Blakley said.

The fourth wave of the Road Shark initiative is scheduled to start Aug. 5.

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Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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