Stafford County reminds you that the long days of summer mean more people on the road and outside. Take the time to be a little extra cautious to keep everyone safe. Children are out of school, which means more kids are playing in and around neighborhood streets. More inexperienced teen drivers are on the road at all hours of the day. Traffic volume, especially in the Stafford area, increases tremendously with tourists visiting our historical sites and traveling on the interstate. Furthermore, heat can take its toll when children, the elderly or pets are left in cars for any length of time. It takes just a few seconds to make a mistake that can affect a lifetime.
“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of not leaving children or pets in a car in the heat. Temperatures can rise as much as 20 degrees in the first 15 minutes. Eighty degrees can quickly become 100, and a life-threatening situation develops,” said Stafford Fire and Rescue Chief Joseph Cardello.
Everyone should have heightened awareness in the summer for runners, walkers and pets. With the extra hours of daylight and pleasant temperatures, more people are out, even in the dusk, exercising or walking pets. Parents should talk to their young drivers, and even remind themselves, about the importance of obeying speed limits and avoiding distractions like cell phones that could take their attention from the road.
According to the International Institute for Highway Safety, summer and early fall are the most dangerous times of the year for driving. Fatalities are higher on weekends as well as later afternoon and evenings. July and August are the most deadly months of Independence Day being a peak day for accidents.
Neighborhoods must also take preventive action within their communities. So, what can you do if you think your neighborhood has an issue with dangerous driving and speeding? Now, there are repeat offenders that everyone knows. However, some situations can arise because a street becomes a cut-through that generates a large volume of drivers on the street designed for a smaller number of cars. This type of issue can be frustrating for residents and drivers.
The Virginia Code lays out steps for traffic calming, which is a technical term for methods used to reduce speeding like speed bumps and signage. If a community has a homeowner’s association (HOA), the HOA can send a request to Stafford for a traffic study. If there is no HOA, a resident needs to round up 10 or more signatures of neighbors on the street to initiate a study.
Stafford currently has multiple ongoing traffic studies, including Edwards Drive in the Grafton Village neighborhood in south Stafford. Edwards Drive has become a cut-through between Deacon Road and Route 218. Residents joined together to ask for a traffic study, which is one of the first steps in the traffic calming process. Traffic studies provide concrete data that is used to take further action.
A traffic calming plan would eventually need to be laid out at a public hearing with the Board of Supervisors. Citizens and residents could offer their opinions during public comment. If the residents are in favor, the Board of Supervisors could pass a resolution instituting the traffic calming measures and would notify VDOT to implement.
The key to traffic calming is citizen input. Citizens can start this process and continue it to a resolution by showing their support. If you have an issue in your neighborhood, contact the Transportation Division of the Stafford County Public Works Department at (540) 658-4900 or VDOT at 1-800-FOR-ROAD (1-800-367-7623).