The Prince William County School Board approved a plan Wednesday that would lower the speed limit near Battlefield High School in Haymarket, Virginia, where a handful of pedestrians have been struck in recent years.
Board members signed off on the proposal to reduce the posted speed at James Madison Highway and Graduation Drive from 55 mph to 35 mph during the school’s drop-off and dismissal times.
“There have been some very serious accidents,” said Jennifer Wall, a board member for the Gainesville District. “The road gets a huge amount of traffic and traffic moves at highway speeds.”
The plan now heads to the Prince William County Board of Supervisors for consideration.
“Both sides of the road are relatively hidden, so it’s an intersection that can catch people unaware,” Wall said.
A report commissioned by the school board cited crash data from the Virginia Department of Transportation. It showed that between January 2016 and December 2020, there were 53 crashes at the intersection of James Madison Highway and Graduation Drive.
Thirty six of the crashes were rear-end collisions, which “may indicate that some drivers could have been operating at higher speeds and were unsuccessful in braking on time,” the report said.
Two pedestrians were killed on the stretch last year, and Prince William County police said another pedestrian was struck near the school on Nov. 23.
“I know that the community is very strongly in support of any safety measure that we can do,” said Wall.
Renee Brennan, the mother of two Battlefield students, said the intersection has been a serious problem in the nearly 20 years she has lived nearby.
“I call it a ‘silent school zone’ because everybody that lives in our community knows that this is a school zone, whether we have it marked or not,” Brennan said. “It is a school zone. It is the way that our children get to school, and the only people who don’t know it’s a school zone are the cars going 55 miles an hour.”