Arlington’s Top 10 Traffic Crash Zones
A new county plan seeks to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries via system-wide improvements at these intersections.
Arlington residents and commuters may have noticed a lot of changes to county intersections and crosswalks lately. The upgrades come as part of a fledgling county program to completely eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries on Arlington roads by 2030.
It’s called Vision Zero and it started in May 2021. Under the program, the county is investigating areas that have high concentrations of crashes. It collects and analyzes data on those hot spots and then uses the information to make changes that improve safety for cars, pedestrians and bicyclists.
“No one should get hurt going from point-A to point-B, especially not lose their life,” says Christine Baker, the Vision Zero Program Manager.
“Up until this point in history, people have just accepted that crashes happen and you can’t prevent them,” Baker says. “But we know that through engineering, through education, through enforcement and engagement, we can achieve these goals. It’s really about adjusting the norm so that our streets are as safe as possible.”
Upgrades range from small changes, such as improved signage and signals, to larger overhauls of roads and intersections. The program also focuses on equity and systemic imbalances that exist between neighborhoods.
“A lot of data nationally shows that people with lower incomes or people of color tend to take on a bigger burden when it comes to crashes and traffic safety issues,” Baker says.
This systematic approach to improving traffic safety was started in Sweden in the 1990s, where it was so successful it has since been adopted by communities around the world. Locally, Alexandria, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County are all Vision Zero communities and collaborate, along with Arlington, to help improve each others’ networks.
The police department also uses Vision Zero data to help with the deployment of police resources and address areas of concern, according to Captain Damon Washington, Commander of the Special Operations Section.
“A safe transportation network for all travelers requires a multidisciplinary approach with collaboration across government agencies and community stakeholders,” Washington says.
Arlington saw 2,052 total crashes in 2022. That’s about 15% higher than in 2021, but still 18% lower than pre-pandemic levels in 2019, when there were more cars on roads.
Baker says the fact that there are fewer crashes now—even as more drivers get behind the wheel again—is an indication that Vision Zero is working. Still, there were four fatal crashes in the county last year. That’s on par with previous years.
Here are the intersections with the highest number of crashes in 2022—and what Vision Zero is doing in the way of safety improvements at each location:
Crashes in 2022: 24 (the majority were angle crashes)
Fixes: A recent safety update at this intersection was the installation of a “No Turn on Red” sign for vehicles driving northbound in 2022. As part of Army Navy Drive Complete Street, the intersection will be fully rebuilt with protected bike lanes, improved sidewalks, streetlights and medians. The project started in July 2023 and is slated to finish in late 2025.
Crashes in 2022: 14 (the majority were rear-end crashes)
Fixes: Last year the traffic signal was rebuilt, and the intersection was improved. Upgrades included the addition of high-visibility crosswalk markings, new high-visibility signal heads and “Turning Vehicle Yield to Pedestrian” signs. New, high-visibility street names were mounted on poles, making them easier to read and navigate.
Crashes in 2022: 8
Fixes: Recent safety upgrades at this intersection include the addition of a “No Turn on Red” sign in 2020 and a “Turning Vehicle Yield to Pedestrian” sign in 2021. Two construction projects are ongoing at this intersection—one to make it safer for all users, and another to create a premium bus transit network connecting Columbia Pike, Pentagon City and Crystal City.
Crashes in 2022: 8
Fixes: The county is looking at interim safety solutions along Route 50 that can be installed while awaiting a VDOT improvement plan slated for 2030.
Crashes in 2022: 7
Fixes: The county plans to rebuild this intersection as part of the S. Eads St. Complete Street project. This project will upgrade the northbound side of South Eads Street between 12th Street South and 15th Street South to improve travel conditions for all road users.
Crashes in 2022: 7
Fixes: Upgrades include recent roadway repaving and intersection reconfigurations. The county, led by the Vision Zero team, is currently conducting a detailed analysis to identify potential additional safety needs.
Crashes in 2022: 6
Fixes: A red-light camera has been installed at this intersection to address red light running crashes. As part of the Lynn Street Esplanade & Custis Trail Improvements, the county also widened the sidewalk, improved signage and marking, and upgraded the traffic signal and signal timing/pedestrian phasing at the crosswalk. In June the county also conducted a High Injury Network safety audit and is investigating additional safety measures to improve the intersection.
Crashes in 2022: 6 (including one pedestrian, one bike and one scooter incident)
Fixes: As part of the Lynn Street Esplanade & Custis Trail Improvements in 2022, the county widened the sidewalk and trail, improved signage and markings, and upgraded the traffic signal. On the east side of the intersection, the crosswalk length was shortened, and a signal was added that gives pedestrians a head-start when crossing.
Crashes in 2022: 6 (the majority were angle crashes, and one involved a pedestrian)
Fixes: A new signal was installed that gives pedestrians a head start before cars get a green light. This intersection was studied under the South George Mason Drive Multimodal Transportation Study. As part of that study, there are preliminary design concepts to improve the intersection. The county will be conducting a High Injury Network safety audit of this area in September and will walk along this intersection to provide input for additional safety measures.
Crashes in 2022: 6 (including one involving a pedestrian)
Fixes: In 2021 the signal phasing was updated. In 2023 a “No Turn on Red” sign was updated. As part of the Columbia Pike Multimodal Street Improvements, the intersection is currently in the construction phase. Plans include widening the sidewalk and upgrading the traffic signals.